May 30, 2012 / 10:34 AM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 2-Wall Street cuts targets as RIM reviews strategy

* Numerous brokerages cut price targets on RIM

* Analysts see odds of a turnaround at RIM fading

* Stock slides further in premarket trading

TORONTO, May 30 (Reuters) - Analysts cut their price targets for Research In Motion Ltd shares on Wednesday after its surprise warning of a likely fiscal first-quarter operating loss, and said the odds of a turnaround at the once iconic BlackBerry maker are fading fast.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based company’s announcement that it had hired bankers and commenced a strategic review did little to calm Wall Street’s fears, and shares fell further before the bell on Wednesday, building on Tuesday evening losses.

RIM shares fell to $10 by 0810 ET on Wednesday, after post market trading on Tuesday ended with the shares at $10.43. The stock has fallen more than 75 percent in the past 12 months and is trading at eight-year lows.

“A potential buyer remains uncertain, and potentially a long shot in our judgment,” said Baird Equity analyst William Power in a note to clients.

RIM said on Tuesday said it hired bankers from J.P. Morgan and RBC Capital to help evaluate its strategic options. But most analysts on Wall Street believe that an outright sale of the company is unlikely.

“We believe management does not intend to sell the company but rather evaluate licensing revenue opportunities,” said Citi analyst Jim Suva in a research note.

Suva, who cut his price target on RIM shares to $9.50 from $11.75, noted that RIM’s earnings warning is also negative for suppliers that include Celestica Inc, Jabil Circuit Inc and Flextronics International Ltd.

RIM, which was worth over $84 billion at its peak in 2008, now has a market capitalization of roughly $6 billion. It has fallen far behind Apple Inc and other rivals such as Samsung Electronics that use Google Inc’s Android software.

BMO Capital Markets, which also cut its price target on the stock to $9 from $11, does not see a buyer for either RIM’s device business or its networks business.

“We believe the results will get worse over the next two quarters, and maybe longer,” said BMO analyst Tim Long in a note to clients. “We believe the subscriber base is set to start declining, and the recurring revenue should do the same.”

RIM, struggling to retain top talent, has faced a series of high-level executive departures in recent weeks, and it is betting everything on the success of its next generation of BB10 smartphones that are expected to late this year.

“In our view, RIM management is still pursuing a flawed strategy,” wrote Nomura analyst Stuart Jeffrey in a note to clients, arguing that RIM’s plan to develop its own devices, its own operating system, and its own applications, while trying to build a robust ecosystem for third party developers is to fail.

“In our view, this vertically integrated approach is likely to prove too ambitious a strategy, one that is likely to sustain losses in devices long-term and to offset profits in the services business,” he said.

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