Did Research in Motion Just Make its Biggest Mistake Yet?
Following another depressing quarter and the announcement that it was delaying the release of its BlackBerry 10 operating system, Research in Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM) finds itself under scrutiny by most analysts on Friday.
The wireless solutions company had ratings downgraded Friday by Societe Generale, Scotia Capital Markets and Bank of America, while other firms mostly cut price targets virtually in half.
Wedbush refers to RIM's outlook as "dismal," while Raymond James says that the possibility of a comeback is "rapidly diminishing." Unanimously, analysts are expressing disappointment with the BlackBerry maker.
"With BB10 now delayed to 1Q-CY13, we're concerned the North America subscriber base could be irreparably harmed and that international markets could follow," Oppenheimer wrote in a report. "The delay also emphasizes that execution issues remain, and we're cautious of expecting much improvement with ~30% of the workforce (5,000 from 16,500) to be cut over the next several quarters."
Oppenheimer does not envision any scenario in which RIM could find a buyer and achieve an "easy exit." The firm remains sidelined "with negative bias" toward the company.
Other analysts are concerned about RIM's ability to release an updated mobile OS.
"The first BB 10 smartphone will be delayed to calendar Q1 2013 due to 'the time required to manage the integration of such a large volume of incoming code and to prepare it for commercial use globally,'" National Bank Financial wrote in a report. "First it was the chip, now RIM can't handle all the code. The story keeps changing; we're not buying it."
National Bank Financial, which was one of only two firms to upgrade Research In Motion on Friday (the other being GMP Securities), also said that there is a chance that "we may never see a BB 10 handset given RIM's track record."
But even if RIM is able to complete BlackBerry 10, Bank of America doubts that it will have a sustainable effect on the company. "We do not believe RIM will be able to build its own ecosystem and think this opportunity has passed," Bank of America wrote in a report. "In our view, the reality is challenging and Microsoft's entry into this market is only likely to make things worse for RIM given MSFT's strong enterprise position. As noted above, we do not see the light at the end of the tunnel at this point of time and the company's latest efforts are unlikely to be successful."
Barclays believes that Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) will get a boost from the delay of BlackBerry 10. "As RIM accounts for 4% of global smartphone shipments, the delay in new products will be positive to its competitors, especially Android (new Jelly Bean OS) and WP (new WP8 OS) groups in 2H12," Barclays wrote in a report.
Wedbush however is more concerned about a certain Cupertino, California-based Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL). "While cost-cutting and ascertaining strategic alternatives are positives, we believe RIM needs to make a strategic shift sooner rather than later, as we believe their integrated strategy remains too far behind Apple," Wedbush writes.
In addition to the BlackBerry 10 delay, analysts are disappointed with RIM's quarterly results. Goldman Sachs referred to RIM's earnings as being "startlingly weak," saying, "It appears to us that its unit miss came despite the fact that it likely sold its smartphones below cost."
The bad news does not end there. Investors who were hoping for a RIM buyout may be disappointed by Citigroup's analysis.
"We do not believe RIM is an acquisition target or the company is looking to break itself up for sale," Citigroup wrote in a report.
Research In Motion is currently trading at $7.42, down 18.40% from yesterday's closing price.
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