RIM turnaround could take up to 5 years, Watsa says

Thu Apr 26, 2012 4:24pm EDT
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By Cameron French

TORONTO (Reuters) - Research in Motion Ltd RIM.TO may take up to five years to regain its stride after its recent stumbles, but the BlackBerry maker's stock is a good value at current levels, investor Prem Watsa said on Thursday.

Speaking at the annual shareholder meeting of Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd (FFH.TO: Quote), the Canadian insurer he heads, Watsa said he believed RIM's recent troubles were mere hurdles for a company he called a "Canadian success story."

"Is it going to turn around in three months, six months, nine months? No," Watsa told reporters after the meeting in Toronto. "But if you're looking four, five years ... We make investments over four or five years."

RIM's once high-flying shares have dropped 70 percent during the past 12 months as it has bled market share to smartphone rivals such as Apple Inc (AAPL.O: Quote) while demand for its Playbook tablet device has floundered.

RIM's Toronto-listed shares rose nearly 4 percent Thursday afternoon to C$13.90, likely helped by reports on a Blackbery-focused blog that RIM plans to announce its first BlackBerry 10 device in August for an October launch.

RIM declined to comment on the report, citing its standard policy not to talk about rumors and speculation. The company said in late March the first BlackBerry 10 device remained on track for a launch in the latter part of the year.


Watsa, a value investor whose approach and acumen is sometimes compared to Warren Buffett's, joined RIM's board in January as part of a front-office shuffle in which Thorsten Heins replaced longtime co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis.   Continued...

A logo of the Blackberry maker's Research in Motion is seen on a building at the RIM Technology Park in Waterloo April 18, 2012. Picture taken April 18, 2012. REUTERS/Mark Blinch