We are adding RIMM to our favored stock list with an initial target of $80.00 per share.Â This is also the target price that Smith Barney has for the companyâ€™s shares as well.Â Â With the earnings currently achieved and estimated,Â the shares would trade at only 10 times earnings at $80.00 per share.
The article below from Barrons this weekend is extremly interesting, and RIMM has even more business going on than described in the piece below that adds to the bullish case.Â We will have a Playbook this week and will write more on that after using it for a while.Â Â We would NOT bet against Jim Balsillie!
The BlackBerry Strikes Back
By JAY PALMER:: Â BARRONSÂ April 16, 2011
Research in Motion may soon prove its many doubters wrong. The company has the smarts and the products to battle Apple for years to come. Could the stock double?
When the Blackberry PlayBook tablet goes on sale Tuesday, there will be none of the long lines of eager buyers that greeted the Apple iPad 2 last month. In fact, if you listen to the technorati and many stock analysts, the PlayBook will be a flat-out bust.
Made by Research In Motion (ticker: RIMM), the Canadian-based outfit behind the BlackBerry smartphone, the PlayBook will cost about the same as the Apple device, starting at $500, but, in the view of critics, will be clearly inferior. You won’t be able to connect to the Internet via a cellular networkâ€”only by Wi-Fiâ€”and there will be far fewer apps to download. That’s not a completely fair evaluation, as we point out in Gadget of the Week. Nor is it especially surprising: RIM’s critics miss a lot of important points.
Just look at how analysts piled on after the company reported its earnings on March 24 for the 12 months through February. They chose to ignore that profits and profit margins were all significantly better than expectedâ€”as was the guidance for the current fiscal year. Rather, the market focused on the fact that earnings in the current quarter, ending in May, would come in below Wall Street’s targets, mainly because of higher one-time promotional spending on the PlayBook.
The stock plunged 12% overnight. After trading as high as 144 in mid-2008 and 75 last March, RIM shares now sell for 54. That’s just 7.8 times analysts’ forecasts for the coming year, and about half that of arch rival Apple’s (AAPL) multiple of 14.4. It’s even below troubled Nokia’s (NOK) multiple of 11.2. The alarmist views of many are summed up in the headlines of news reports and research notes: Â “RIM Outlook Dire,” “Loss of Faith Deepens,” “Can RIM be Saved?” and even
The main worry is indeed Apple. Ever since the first iPhone launched in the summer of 2007, to immediate raves, RIM has been seen by investors to be in trouble. That simply isn’t true. For all of Apple’s inroads, the U.S. smartphone market as a whole has been growing at such a fast clipâ€”more than 75% in 2010, for instanceâ€”that RIM has been able to continue increasing revenue and profits rapidly, up a compound annual average of 57% and 50%, respectively, over the past five years. RIM has never had a single quarter of net global subscriber losses, and, with sales volume almost 20% greater than Apple’s, it remains the biggest smartphone player in the U.S. And while it lags behind Nokia worldwide, it has vast overseas growth potential.
IN SHORT, RIM ISN’T DEADâ€”or anywhere near it.Â
Tavis McCourt, an analyst with Morgan Keegan, puts it succinctly: “RIM’s valuation remains the theater of the absurd.” He’s expecting 40% revenue growth over the next few years and a stock price of 91 in 12 months.Â Analyst Gus Papageorgiou of Scotia Capital, who dismisses the bearish case as U.S.-centric, has a price target of $120, more than double the current level.
Yes, RIM has lost market share. But the company virtually invented mobile e-mail and the smartphone, making the BlackBerry a symbol of new-millennium connectivity. For some time, it was the only player in town, with an obviously untenable 100% hold on the market. “It was inevitable we would lose market share,” says Jim Balsillie, who together with Mike Lazaridis is one of RIM’s two co-CEOs.
The company still has a clear lead.Â According to the U.S. research firm ComScore, BlackBerry is North America’s biggest smartphone player, accounting for about 29% of subscribersâ€”down from around 34% a year ago, but still more than Apple’s 25% and Microsoft‘s (MSFT) meager 8%. True, the phone makers using Google’s relatively new Android operating system have 33% of the market, but that lumps together scores of devices from various makers.
RIM is using its know-how to retain a strong position. It’s widely believed that the company will bring out new phones later this summer, with an advanced user interface that’s more intuitive and easier to use. More new phones will likely follow in early 2012, and these will probably run on QNX, the PlayBook’s new operating system, making them notably faster and more powerful.
Â The Canadian company has a big leg up on Apple in a key part of the smartphone market. From its origins in providing the first BlackBerry pagers to Wall Street movers and shakers in the late 1990s, RIM has had a strong base in the business world. This includes the mobile devices that companies buy for their employees and, increasingly, the ones that people buy on their own and then link to their employers’ networks to access e-mail and data.
IN THE BUSINESS MARKET, which makes up an estimated one-third of the total, “BlackBerry phones currently outnumber Apple units by about 10 to 1,” according to Bzur Haun, president of Visage Mobile, a California company that manages more than 150,000 mobile devices for more than 200 of America’s largest corporations. Within five years, that is apt to slip, but not significantly.
Says Barclays capital analyst Jeff Kvaal: “RIM still owns the enterprise market, and will own it for a long time to come. The iPhone is not a big threat.”
Â Little is more important in the corporate world than security. Companies and government agencies want to protect their data from hackers, especially if a device is lost or stolen, and the BlackBerry does this better than the Android or Apple phones do. Little wonder that the nation’s first smartphone-toting president has a BlackBerry.
Information sent by a BlackBerry is encrypted and routed through RIM’s servers, which can kill all data on a stolen device. RIM’s security is so tight that the company has ongoing quarrels with a number of foreign governmentsâ€”including India, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emiratesâ€”that want to tap their citizens’ e-mail.
Balsillie sees a future in which smartphones carry personal medical records and passport information and serve as electronic credit cards and as access cards for corporate and government facilities. This will require innovative, solid data protection, and RIM has the best background to provide it.
RIM’s great opportunity is outsideÂ North America, which accounted for just 6% of the 300 million smartphones sold globally in 2010. Many foreign markets are growing fast. At the same time, Nokia’s woes are providing an extraordinary opening for RIM and Apple, which now each hold about 16% of the worldwide market. Nokia, the longtime global leader in sales of mobile phones, has been suffering from an antiquated operating system, lackluster designs and uninspired leadership. Its new CEO has called it “a burning platform.”
After bleeding cash and posting lower profits through most of last year, Nokia in February opted to dump Symbian, its longstanding mobile operating system, in favor of a new strategic alliance with Microsoft. Future Nokia phones will run Windows Phone 7. That is leaving international cellular carriers reluctant to promote Nokia Symbian devices, which account for some 38% of the units in the global smartphone marketâ€”a sizable share that could now be up for grabs.
RIM HAS SOME CORE ADVANTAGES that could give it a distinct edge, one being price. In North America, cellular companies normally offer handsets at large discounts and make their money through two- or three-year data plans, charging users for e-mails, text messages and Web downloads. In most foreign countries, however, carriers typically charge full freight for the handsets, but have much cheaper data plans.
With that in mind,Â RIM is aggressively adding new, lower-end phones to its roster. RIM’s cheapest BlackBerry, the Curve 8520, retails for about $225. The average price for its full line of smartphonesâ€“it has seven modelsâ€”was just under $300 last year. Apple’s iPhone retails for $600 to $700, depending on features, and a typical upmarket Android device can cost $500.
RIM is already making big strides overseas, with foreign sales doubling in the most recent quarter. Morgan Keegan’s McCourt points out that 60% of RIM’s revenue came from overseas in the period, up from 40% a year earlier. “If 60% of your revenues are growing 100% year over year,” he says, “it is hard not to be a growth company.”
Â Then there’s the PlayBook, which enters a tablet market that Morgan Stanley predicts will see shipments exceeding 100 million units a year by 2012, generating up to $50 billion. Today, this market is owned by Apple’s iPad, but competition is intensifying. This year, more than 40 companies, including Acer, Dell and Motorola, are bringing out more than 70 tablets. Not all will be winners. Barron’s Roundtable memberÂ Fred Hickey, author of the High-Tech Strategist newsletter, warns of a “comical” overcrowding in tablets. Still, given that manyÂ think that tablets will be adopted most quickly by business users and will displace laptops, BlackBerry loyalists could make RIM a winner. Estimates of first-year PlayBook sales range from a pessimistic 400,000 to an ambitiousÂ six million.
The PlayBook’s biggest advantage lies in its operating system. RIM purchased QNX Software from Harman International (HAR) in 2010, to power not only the PlayBook, but also, starting next year, most BlackBerry phones. QNX is already widely used to run factory production lines, giant Cisco routers, high-speed trains in Europe and Japan, and virtually all the entertainment systems in new high-end cars. “People don’t understand that we have effected a monumental transition here,” says Balsillie.
“THE CAR IS OUR PERFECT ACCESSORY,” says Lazaridis. “There are 235 car models out there with totally compatible computer and entertainment systems. Add 3-Dâ€”and that’s not far offâ€”and we can have a PlayBook attached to the dashboard, running a split screen, one with a movie visible only to the front-seat passenger and one with navigation data for the driver. And, since your BlackBerry already knows where you are going from your appointment calendar, you will not even have to program in that destination.”
What remains for RIM is to integrate cellular network capability into the PlayBook (it already has Wi-Fi). QNX gives the new tablet a fantastic fluid feel and spectacular graphics. It lets the PlayBook run multiple apps. And, it could provide a real-time link between users and their home-security systems, home and office phones and even their cars. But again, cellular connectivity and seamless connections to Blackberry phone and e-mail apps will have to come quickly.
Even though RIM is still projecting 2011-12 earnings of $7.50 a share, the Street’s mean expectation is $6.88. The pessimism is odd, given RIM’s good prospects and its history of delivering strong results
Conceivably, RIM could also become a takeover target. Microsoft may find that its alliance with Nokia does little to improve its No. 4 position in U.S. smartphones; buying RIM might be a better move. The stock also could get a lift if RIM initiates a dividend. One reason Nokia’s stock trades at a higher multiple than RIM’s, despite all the problems, is its 6.3% dividend yield.
But even without moves like that, RIM looks poised to shine. With any luck, within a year, those PlayBook screens will be displaying a crisp and climbing stock chart.