BlackBerry returns from the dead

By John Leonard
23 Nov 2012 View Comments
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Shares in Research in Motion (RIM), maker of the BlackBerry handheld devices, rose by 17.3 per cent on the Toronto Stock Exchange yesterday, as investors demonstrated their faith in the forthcoming BlackBerry 10 operating system and a new range of smartphones.

For many months now, analysts have been predicting RIM's demise through a series of self-inflicted wounds as well as savage competition from the likes of Apple and Samsung, which have seen BlackBerry devices knocked from their once unassailable perch as business smartphones of choice.

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However, it seems that rumours of the company's death may have been exaggerated. Shares in RIM have risen in the last straight seven trading days in Toronto, reaching their highest level yesterday since May as they hit C$12 (£7.54). Over the last two months RIM's shares have risen 90 per cent.

Influential analysts such as National Bank's Kris Thompson believe there is "positive sentiment building in the industry". Thompson has raised his expectations of the firm's performance, saying that he now expects RIM to sell about 35.5 million devices in financial year 2014, up from an earlier estimate of 31.6 million.

Thompson is joined in his optimism by Jefferies & Co analyst Peter Misek, who raised his rating and price target on RIM stock on Tuesday. Misek, one of RIM's most infuential critics, said a favourable reaction from telecom carriers to the new devices and the operating system had led him to change his view on the Canadian company's prospects.

"We have been surprised by the strongly positive initial feedback on BB10 from carriers," said Misek, according to Bloomberg. "We expected a more muted response, given BB10 is two years late and RIM's market share has plunged from 20 per cent to five per cent. Our theory is that carriers see BB10 as one of their last chances to avoid being locked into a long-term smartphone OS duopoly."

The much-delayed new devices are expected to arrive earlier than analysts had expected. RIM said earlier this month it plans to launch them on January 30, rather than the March date that analysts had anticipated.

The new smartphone range will comprise a total of six BlackBerrys running the BB10 operating system. First to be released will be three touchscreen phones. Three with a full keyboard will follow after a few weeks, with lower-end versions of each being available later in 2013.

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