RIM's Stock Tanks After Poor Quarterly Numbers - InformationWeek

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Commentary
12/16/2011
02:22 PM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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RIM's Stock Tanks After Poor Quarterly Numbers

Research In Motion's stock was down as much as 10% Friday after the company reported dismal numbers for its most recent quarter.

RIM's most recent quarterly report wasn't a total disaster, but it wasn't good, either. The company reported revenue of $5.2 billion, which is up 24% from the previous quarter, but net income was down 71% from the year-ago quarter at $265 million. The revenue breakdown for the quarter was approximately 79% for hardware, 19% for service, and 2% for software and other revenue.

The company shipped 14.1 million BlackBerry smartphones--in line with expectations--and 150,000 PlayBook tablets. RIM says that the total number of subscribers has risen to about 75 million, up 35% from last year.

That's where the good news stops.

During a call with press on Thursday, RIM dropped a bomb: its next-generation smartphone won't ship during the first half of the year, as expected. Instead, it won't be ready until "the latter part" of 2012.

The reason for the delay, said RIM, is because it has chosen a dual-core LTE chipset for these new phones that won't be available until mid-June. RIM believes this new chip is a vital component for its next-generation of smartphones.

[Go inside the Blackberry Playbook. See Slideshow: RIM BlackBerry PlayBook Teardown.]

Though the delay seems to be a legitimate one, RIM investors appear to have lost their trust in the company. By mid-day, RIM's stock was down by 10% as investors fled--as well they should.

Here's the tone-deaf statement from RIM's leaders about its quarterly earnings:

"Despite the challenges faced in the third quarter, the BlackBerry subscriber base grew to almost 75 million customers around the world. In addition, RIM launched a range of new BlackBerry 7 based smartphones globally and introduced holiday promotions that helped drive growth in the installed base of BlackBerry PlayBook users."

Ha, that's a laugh. The only reason RIM sold 150,000 PlayBooks is because it dropped the price from $499 to $199.)

"We continue to evaluate ways to improve in several areas of the Company's operations. It may take some time to realize the benefits of these efforts and the platform transition that we are undertaking, but we continue to believe that RIM has the right set of strengths and capabilities to maintain a leading role in the mobile communications industry."

A leading role? RIM hasn't led anything recently other than smartphone defections.

So, despite the fact that its marketshare has dropped, its stock value has plummeted by as much as 75% for the year, and nothing the company is doing has made any improvements, RIM's CEOs still believe everything will turn out fine. Worse, they expect investors to remain patient as the company rights the ship.

I think today's stock sell-off sends exactly the right message to RIM: Investors aren't buying the bull any more.

When is RIM's board going to do something about it?

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