RIM's dim view trims year's gains

Research In Motion's shares tumble 11% after a weak financial forecast and another delay for its superphones.

By TheStreet Staff Mar 25, 2011 11:48AM

By Scott Moritz, TheStreet

 

Research In Motion (RIMM) pumped its PlayBook, but investors dumped the stock on a weak financial outlook and the delay of a superphone arrival.

 

RIM posted solid fiscal-fourth-quarter numbers after the bell Thursday but said higher costs for new products like the PlayBook tablet would narrow gross margins to 41% from 44% on lower-than-expected revenue.

 

The dim forecast knocked RIM shares down 11% and helped confirm suspicions that the BlackBerry maker isn't on a quick-turnaround path.

 

Perhaps the news most bruising to RIM optimists was the company's explanation that its next-generation phones running on its QNX software will not be available in time for the crucial holiday season.

RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie told analysts on an earnings call (blogged live by TheStreet) that the QNX superphones will not arrive until early 2012.

 

After facilitating a strong leadership run in the smartphone market, RIM has suffered a tough slide in market share that started when Apple (AAPL) entered the race in 2007 and continued with the advent of Google's (GOOG) Android phones shortly after.

 

"RIM appears caught in a vacuum with no new models in sight," Morgan Stanley's Ehud Gelblum wrote in a research note Friday. "The lull may not be terminal, although a turnaround could take several quarters to poke through," Gelblum continued.

One major positive for RIM was the announcement that its QNX-powered PlayBook tablet will be compatible with Google's Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) applications. The combination preserves RIM's trusted BlackBerry platform for business users and adds popular Android games and applications.

 

Getting "Angry Birds" "should overcome RIM's app gap, and significantly raise PlayBook's appeal over competing Android tablets," RBC's Mike Abramsky wrote in a note Friday.

 

RIM's miss has wiped away the 10% stock gain the company had seen this year. RIM shares were trading down 11% at $57.07 Friday.

 

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