RIM may warn on BlackBerry shipments, analyst says

Thu Mar 1, 2012 1:24pm EST
 
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By Alastair Sharp

(Reuters) - Shares of Research In Motion dropped nearly 5 percent on Thursday after an influential analyst said RIM would likely warn that it came up short on BlackBerry shipments this quarter and offer an even bleaker outlook for its flagship smartphone.

The latest version of the smartphone - using the legacy BlackBerry 7 operating system that RIM will replace later this year - has failed to impress demanding U.S. consumers, Jefferies analyst Peter Misek wrote in a note to clients.

Tepid shipments are likely to translate into weaker-than-expected results for the company's fourth quarter ending March 3, he said. That could lead RIM to tip its hand before the formal release of its results on March 29.

Perhaps just as worrying, Misek said, consumer acceptance for RIM's smartphones is starting to erode in Latin America and Europe, where sales of cheaper devices have provided a cushion for the Canadian company as it falls behind the pace in the United States.

"There is a greater than 50 percent chance that RIM will negatively pre-announce the February quarter," said Misek, who is rated five stars by Thomson Reuters StarMine for the accuracy of his earnings estimates on RIM.

FIVE QUARTERS OF DECLINE IN U.S.

It would not be the first time that the Waterloo, Ontario-based company has decided to come clean before releasing its results. It issued a sharp profit warning ahead of third-quarter results in December, sending its shares into a tailspin. It also revised its forecasts last April before the end of the quarter.

RIM's U.S. sales have fallen for five straight quarters, as consumers embrace Apple's iPhone and high-end devices running Google's Android software. The company has typically offset the decline with rising sales elsewhere.   Continued...

 
A BlackBerry smartphone handset is displayed in a store in Bern February 13, 2012.  REUTERS/Pascal Lauener