Analysts greet BlackBerry launch with downgrades

Thu Jan 31, 2013 5:49am EST
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(Reuters) - Research In Motion Ltd's glitzy unveiling of the long-delayed line of BlackBerry smartphones on Wednesday and a new corporate name failed to impress Wall Street analysts, with at least three downgrading the company's stock.

RIM, which renamed itself BlackBerry, showcased two devices, Z10 and Q10, running on its new BB10 operating system as the smartphone pioneer looks for a fresh start.

"Despite recent enthusiasm for RIM's new BB10 devices, we see limited scope for traction in the hypercompetitive smartphone market," Credit Suisse analysts wrote in a note.

RIM faces an uphill struggle in terms of gaining smartphone market share, the Credit Suisse analysts said, downgrading the stock to "underperform" from "neutral".

RIM's Nasdaq-listed shares were set to open 3 percent lower on Thursday. They closed 12 percent down on Wednesday at $13.78. Its Toronto-listed shares also fell by the same margin to close at C$13.86.

RIM launched its first BlackBerry in 1999 and quickly cornered the market for secure emails, but its market share plummeted after customers jumped ship to Apple Inc's iPhone and devices using Google Inc's Android technology.

Analysts at Evercore Partners said they did not expect the new BB10 devices to cause a stir among customers, and cut their rating to "equal weight" from "underweight".

"The new hardware and operating system is a dramatic improvement versus RIMM's older products but expect a muted consumer response due to RIMM's damaged brand image," they said.

Barclays Capital analysts wrote in a note that RIM had the best possible device launch it could have hoped for, but there were many challenges ahead.   Continued...

An attendee reaches out to grab a newly launched Research in Motion (RIM) Blackberry 10 device in New York January 30, 2013. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton