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BW Businessworld

RIM On The Edge After Grim Results, Launch Delay

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Research In Motion Ltd could run out of cash and ultimately fail, even with the launch of its now-delayed BlackBerry 10 device early next year, Wall Street analysts said.

At least 10 brokerages cut their price targets on the stock, some by as much as 50 per cent, a day after the company reported worse-than expected quarterly results and said it would delay the launch of its next-generation device to early 2013 from late this year.

RIM shares were down 15 per cent in pre-market trading on the Nasdaq.

"If RIM continues to be run as it is, we believe that the company will eventually fail," Nomura Equity Research said.

"We do not expect RIM to successfully drive a turnaround of its financials, even with the launch of BB10 next year," the brokerage said in a note to clients, adding that its model assumes that RIM disappears by 2020 in a gradual decline.

BlackBerry 10, considered to be RIM's make-or-break product, was originally slated to be launched in the first quarter and the delay has already contributed to a 40 per cent drop in the company's stock price so far this year.

"Given RIM's cash burn, BB10 can't come soon enough," Barclays said in a note to clients.

Analysts at Citi Investment Research and Jefferies slashed their price targets on the stock to $5.00 for RIM's U.S.-listed shares, a fall of 45 per cent from Thursday's close.

"We believe fundamentals continue to get worse and RIMM could run out of cash and need to raise capital within two years implying that as time rolls forward, if we are correct, the value of RIMM continues to go lower," the Citi analysts said.

"We expect more write-offs and impairments to RIMM assets and we question if RIMM's new BB10 products will even matter as it may be too little too late," the analysts said.

RIM said it would lay off 5,000 workers, about 30 per cent of its workforce, as it tries to save cash, although some analysts noted that this would come at a short-term cost.

Citi said the layoffs it believed the company should be hiring instead of firing to get products out on time. "With the distraction of this large layoff, it will be difficult to retain and motivate employees to develop new products."

With a weak product portfolio and the BlackBerry 10 delay, RIM faces continued volume pressure as well declining average selling prices, said Credit Suisse, which cut its price target on the company's U.S.-listed shares to $7 from $11.

"While the stock remains cheap, only the potential for an outright sale of the company or a break-up keeps us at a "neutral" (rating)," the brokerage said.

RIM's board is under increasing pressure to consider unpalatable options such as selling its network business or forming an alliance with Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O), three sources familiar with the situation said on Thursday.

CIBC cut its rating on RIM to "sector underperformer" from "sector outperformer." National Bank Financial, however, raised its rating to "sector perform" from "underperform", saying it was time to get off short positions.

Shares of RIM, which have dropped about 70 per cent over the past year, were down 15 per cent at $7.75 in pre-market trading. The stock closed at $9.46 in Toronto on Thursday.