June 4, 2012 / 6:13 PM / 5 years ago

RIM shares drop again; technicals weak

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. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

TORONTO (Reuters) - Research In Motion’s share price on Monday dropped to less than $10 on Nasdaq, a breach that technical analysts say could spur further declines, after an analyst warned that the BlackBerry maker’s sales were dismal last month.

The stock, which is trading at its lowest since 2003, has fallen nearly 15 percent in the past week alone.

After an announcement last week that RIM expects to post a quarterly operating loss, sentiment is extremely bearish on the stock, said Elvis Picardo, a strategist at Global Securities in Vancouver.

To make matters worse, Pacific Crest analyst James Faucette said in a note to clients on Sunday that RIM sales deteriorated further in May.

On Monday, RIM’s shares fell 5.8 percent to $9.66 on the Nasdaq, while its Toronto-listed shares closed on Monday 6.1 percent lower at C$10.03.

“You would have expected the C$10 level to have provided pretty strong support, but if it cracks through that it’s really hard to say where this decline will stop,” said Picardo.

RIM, which almost invented the concept of on-the-go email with its first BlackBerry device in 1999, has seen its once dominant position fade in the face of competition from Apple Inc’s iPhone and devices from the likes of Samsung Electronics Co using Google Inc’s Android software.

“Technically it’s not looking good at all,” said Don Vialoux a research analyst at Horizon Investment Management. “It trades well below its 20, 50 and 200-day moving averages and has given no indication of trying to bottom as of yet.”

RIM’s market capitalization, which peaked at $84 billion in 2008, has now fallen to about roughly $5 billion. The company continues to cede market share to rivals and some analysts expect RIM to begin to lose subscribers this year.

The stock’s latest slide was in part a response to the Pacific Crest note.

“Our checks indicate that U.S. BlackBerry sales likely declined further in May, while inventory remained relatively stable,” said Faucette in a note to clients on Sunday.

Faucette believes that telecom carriers now hold about six to eight weeks of BlackBerry inventory, which is roughly three to four times normal levels.

Faucette said the majority of RIM’s sales in Europe are being driven by its lower-end Curve products. This in turn puts pressure on RIM’s average device selling prices.

OPERATING LOSS EXPECTED

Last month, RIM shocked investors after it forecast a fiscal first-quarter operating loss, without providing further details. The company, which has hired bankers to review its strategic options, is expected to report quarterly results on June 28.

RIM said it added about 1 million subscribers in the quarter ended June 2, its lowest total in at least five years.

Despite recent declines Roger Volz, a technical analyst at BGC Partners in New York, is skeptical about whether investors ought to jump into the stock at these levels.

“If you were to say to me ‘I want to buy RIM at $9.68.’ I’d say that’s fine but if it closes at $9.20 then you have risk of the next leg-down which could take you to the May-June 2001 highs which are at $6.86 ... That would be the next barrier where I would take a stand,” he said.

NEW LAWSUIT

RIM was also hit with a lawsuit last week that alleges its network - which compresses and encrypts data sent to BlackBerry devices - infringes on intellectual property owned by Mobile Telecommunications Technologies LLC.

The five patents listed in the complaint cover storage of undelivered wireless data, handling of call-back telephone numbers, group messaging and use of pre-written meeting requests.

The lawsuit is Mobile Telecommunications Technologies LLC v Research In Motion Corporation, United States District Court for the northern district of Texas, case no. 3:12-cv-01652.

Reporting By Euan Rocha, Jon Cook and Alastair Sharp; Editing by Frank McGurty

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