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RIM 'has a heartbeat' - analysts

Sep 28 2012 13:25 Reuters

RIM has said that it is abandoning the BlackBerry battle for consumer sales with Google and Apple. (AP)

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Montreal - Research in Motion’s turnaround potential has improved after the struggling BlackBerry maker’s better-than-expected quarterly results, analysts said, with one summarising his view by saying “the patient has a heartbeat.”

Analysts said risks remained, with the company’s future riding on the release of its BlackBerry 10 model early next year, but an improved cash position provides breathing room.

National Bank Financial upgraded RIM’s stock, while BMO Capital Markets and Barclays Capital were among brokerages that raised price targets on the company’s shares.

RIM not only reported a smaller-than-expected loss for the second quarter, it beat market estimates for revenue and shipments while arresting its cash burn ahead of the crucial launch of BlackBerry 10. Subscriber numbers also rose in the quarter, surprising analysts.

"This performance is nothing short of shocking as RIM has found a formula to entice its global carrier customers to sell (its) product,” said National Bank Financial’s Kris Thompson.

RIM is offering aggressive pricing for its BlackBerry 7 and may be discounting on network service fees, Thompson said.

Thompson, who is rated five stars by Thomson Reuters StarMine for the accuracy of his estimates on RIM’s earnings, upgraded the stock to “outperform” and increased his price target on the stock to $12 from $8.

The analyst said he expected RIM’s management, which has succeeded in maintaining the company’s subscriber base, to continue with steps to sustain that base ahead of the launch of the next-generation BlackBerry early next year.

Until Thursday’s results, RIM was increasingly being written off by analysts because of its failure to keep pace with innovations from rivals such as Apple and Samsung Electronics.

“While RIM delivered marginally better results, we believe it is still too early to get constructive,” said Phillip Huang of UBS Investment Research, in a note titled “Not Out of the Woods Yet; 1Q13 Key”. RIM is expect to launch BlackBerry 10 in the first quarter of the new year.

Huang, who has a neutral rating on the stock, did not change his view or price target of $9.50.

BMO analyst Tim Long, who said RIM continues to incur meaningful costs to sell older and uncompetitive products, said the company’s fate now hinged on BlackBerry 10.

"The app line-up for BB10 still appears very weak, particularly when compared to (Apple’s) iOS and (Samsung’s) Android,” said Long, who raised his price target to $8 from $7.

Barclays raised its target to $7 from $6.

William Blair and Co's Brian Nugent, while detecting RIM’s “heartbeat”, said he was maintaining his “market perform” rating.

"...Nothing led us to be incrementally positive, and we continue to believe that company’s structural challenges persist," he said.

RIM’s Nasdaq-listed shares shot up more than 20% to $8.60 in extended trading on Thursday, and were trading around that level before the bell.

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