Telecom & Wireless

Puzzler: Why Are RIM Downgrades Coming Now, Instead of Last Week?

BlackBerry Z10
Source: Courtesy Research in Motion Ltd.
With only a couple of exceptions, analysts covering Research In Motion Ltd. (NASDAQ: RIMM) maintained their ratings on the company’s stock until after RIM launched its new BlackBerry 10 operating system and phones. Didn’t they like the company’s name change, also announced yesterday, to “BlackBerry” or the new ticker symbol?

An article in Forbes presents bits for four of today’s downgrades to RIM’s stock since yesterday’s launch. Charter Equity Research downed the stock from ‘buy’ to ‘market perform’, saying the recent run-up in shares was too fast and that markets are skeptical that the new phones will be able to compete against either Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) or Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG). This is new?

The analyst at S&P capital IQ cut RIM’s shares from Hold to Sell, while raising the price target from $12 to $13. And though he praises the capabilities of the new BlackBerry phones, he thinks they will only appeal to the ever-shrinking number of current BlackBerry users. This is new?

At Credit Suisse, RIM’s shares were cut from Neutral to Underperform and the price target was lowered from $11 to $10. The analyst thinks there will be “limited traction for the new phones.” No kidding?

At Evercore Partners, RIM was cut from Equal Weight to Underweight and the $8 price target was kept. Again, the analyst expects a “muted” response to the new phones.

The new BlackBerry phones, especially the touch-screen Z10, have gotten very fine reviews. That’s not enough — it was never enough. RIM is playing catch-up and unless it comes up with some sort of performance-enhancing drug (cut-rate pricing to push into emerging markets?) the company is no better off or no worse off today than it was yesterday.

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