Research In Motion up on Jefferies upgrade

The analysts also raised their price target ahead of the release of BlackBerry 10.

By Benzinga Jan 18, 2013 1:02PM
Arrow Up Nicholas Monu iStock Exclusive Getty ImagesBy Sam Mattera

Shares of Research in Motion (RIMM) rallied nearly 6% in morning trading on Friday. Analysts at Jefferies upgraded the stock to a "buy" from "hold" and raised their price target on the stock from $13 to $19.50.

How much of RIM's rally is real and how much of it is a product of short covering?

About one-third of RIM's float has been sold short. Those who bet on RIM's bankruptcy in 2012 have been increasingly burned as shares have rallied higher ahead of the release of BlackBerry 10.

No doubt, 2012 was a brutal year for the company. Shares tumbled after the company reported poor earnings, and questions started to surface about the company's long-term viability in the face of declining interest in its handsets.

Co-founders Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis stepped down in the first half of the year, turning control over to Thorsten Heins, who shifted the company's focus to developing a completely new mobile operating system: BlackBerry 10.

RIM's impressive rally over the last few months seems to be pinned on traders' hopes for the viability of BB10 (or perhaps, the shorts' fears). Devices running the new mobile OS are set to debut January 30.

Meanwhile, shares of Apple (AAPL) traded back below $500 during Friday's morning trade. Are the two related? Some businesses, long loyal to BlackBerry for their corporate phones, shifted over to Apple's iPhone. Now, with a revitalized BlackBerry, corporations might be willing to switch back.

One factor that seems to have been lost in the shuffle is the possibility of RIM being bought.

Last May, RIM hired JP Morgan to explore the company's strategic possibilities, including a sale of the business. It is interesting to note that the first BlackBerry 10 phones will not feature RIM's trademark keyboard.

Perhaps RIM is still hoping to present BB10 as a powerful asset in the mobile world. The type of asset Samsung might want for its phones, given its reliance on Google's (GOOG) mobile operating system Android. Or, perhaps Amazon (AMZN) would want BB10 for its strongly rumored upcoming smartphone.

Either way, it's hard to fight with RIM's tape. Over the last three months, shares are up well over 85%.

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