Research In Motion Ltd. (NASDAQ: RIMM) has been nothing short of a disaster. Almost all of the media reports and almost all of the analyst reports are still negative. There is just one problem with all this negativity. It was just last week that RIM shares hit a 52-week and multi-year (about a decade) low of $6.22 ahead of its earnings. Now shares have suddenly rallied more than 25% from those lows. After a 4.8% gain to $7.86 on Monday, RIM shares have bounced by 26%.
What has become very obvious is that there is a hidden story here that all RIM-investors and RIM-watchers need to consider. RIM is become a true contrarian’s dream.
We issued a warning of trust here last week and we want to reissue that warning to traders, investors, and speculators. The warning for the time being is for the public to not trust the reports seen from analysts, market pundits, and the media when it comes to RIM. For disclosure, this warning might as well include us too! How many media outlets will honestly tell you to not trust what you read or hear about anything? Not many.
There exists a problem with “objectivity” a this particular time when it comes to RIM. This situation has been a train wreck for so long that it is nearly impossible to get a true sentiment change that sounds real or objective. Analysts have been downgrading this stock for so long that they are probably scared to sound positive. Can you imagine an analyst coming out and daring to say “Now Is FINALLY The Time To Buy RIM” to the firm’s clients? It probably sounds ludicrous. Still, a stock performance is often used as the best measurement of news that exits. What does a 26% gain in a week off the lows tell you?
Is this just short covering causing the huge bounce in RIM’s stock? Only in part. More likely it is one factor aiding to the rally. RIM most recently had a short interest of more than 82.6 million shares. That is down from a peak of over 92 million shares in the short interest but it still represents about 5.1 days to cover.
The real culprit behind the gain is that RIM managed to not have a decline in its user base like Wall Street expected. That was unexpected, even if RIM is now losing money. The Blackberry 10 operating system upgrade is not coming until the first quarter of 2010 and is going to now miss the holiday season sales. The demand for iphone5 from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) and for Android from Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) take up almost all of the news headlines these days when it comes to smartphones. No one wants to talk about RIM other than market share loss and irrelevance. So, again go back to that 26% share price bounce in one week and think about it for a second.
Goldman Sachs was one of the few positives on the stock, but that increased target on subscribers was issued before RIM reported earnings which were far less bad than what the analyst community was expecting. Credit Suisse panned RIM and also Nokia Corporation (NYSE: NOK) calling for little hope. The upgrade we saw last week was from Scotia, but that was only to “Market Perform” from “Underperform.” No one wants to be positive here. And, the shares are up 26%. Thomson Reuters lists a consensus price target of $8.69 versus a current share price of $7.86, if that “consensus” figure can be trusted.
And what about those RIM Playbook tablets that were supposed to compete against the iPad? Ask yourself one question here: Have you ever seen a Playbook out in the public being used by anyone? I hate to say this, but I have never seen one out in public but I have seen literally thousands of iPads.
Are we telling you that we are now turning positive on RIM? No. But we can easily recognize a situation that we have seen before. Sometimes it is just too easy to turn into what is called a “Perma-Bear” by some market participants. We have even gone as far as listing RIM and Blackberry among the brands which are at risk of disappearing in 2013. It is even easy to say that RIM may be the next Palm.
About the only real positives we can truly take away after earnings were two: 1) the CEO was far more upbeat on a CNBC interview than we expected; and 2) the expected subscriber losses did not come because of emerging market growth, where ASPs are generally lower. Do either of those positives sound all that positive?
It is also important to keep in mind that RIM’s “success” here is still very limited. It is also impossible (or just too difficult) to say that this is the beginning of the turnaround. Even after a 26% gain, RIM shares could rise by 1,000% and still not be anywhere close to an all-time high. You can easily argue that the success may just be “less failure” in reality.
It is rather obvious that no one wants to be positive about RIM. About all we can come up with on our own is just a less negative stance. It almost seems too difficult to believe that RIM can stage a comeback with the challenging environment it faces. And the stock is somehow up 26%.
This situation around RIM seems like independent objectivity is just too biased to be of use. When it comes to analyzing RIM at this particular time, you need to realize that you are currently on your own.
JON C. OGG