Merrill: Strong Earnings Growth Should Propel Research in Motion Shares

| About: BlackBerry Ltd. (BBRY)

Investors in BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion Ltd. (RIMM) appear unphased despite its announcement Monday that it will restate its financials for the past three years and also expects to take a US$250 million charge as a result of improper stock-option granting procedures.

After a small spike upwards on Monday, trading volume of RIM shares dropped below its six month average on Tuesday, and RIM shares remain near where they opened the week.

In addition to the restatements, major changes to RIM’s board and executive management team were announced, including co-CEO Jim Balsillie stepping down as chairman.

In a research report, Merrill Lynch analyst Vivek Arya said the management changes, while creating some risk, should have little impact on the company going forward.

“Overall, RIM’s fundamentals remain strong benefited from strong product cycles and from distracted competitors (Palm, Nokia, Motorola),” he said.

Mr. Arya reiterated his “buy” recommendation and US$165 price target for RIM shares, representing upside of roughly 18%.

He also noted RIM’s announcement that it added one million new net subscribers during the February quarter, which was better than he estimated.

Paired with the imminent launch of new products, including the Pearl and 8800 products for U.S. CDMA carriers like Verizon and Sprint, the strong subscriber numbers help support Mr. Arya’s 30% annual earnings growth forecast for the next two years.