The answer is no.
The question? Should you -- or anyone on God's green earth -- buy Research In Motion (RIMM) in the lead-up to Thursday's earnings report?
But people are apparently lapping up the stock in eager anticipation of Thursday's report, which will come after the market closes. The stock was up 2.73% in trading Tuesday in heedless hope that those earnings will be good. As a result, we suggest selling the stock.
After rightfully falling nearly 50% year-to-date, RIM's stock has been strangely jumpy of late. Last week, it leapt on news of a deal with Microsoft (MSFT). Unfortunately, the jump was undeserved. The modest and measured agreement was confabulated with a sign of something greater, like an impending takeover.
First off, last week's deal neither talked nor walked like a takeover. Moreover, with competition from Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG) calling RIM's long-term viability into question, there's fat chance of a takeover from Microsoft or Yahoo (YHOO) or Sprint (S) or anyone else, let alone at anything approaching this price.
You'd think that the prospect of an earnings report would sober traders up. Yet as we bear down on Thursday's earnings report, last week's misdirected excitement is actually getting amplified. You can see it in yesterday's stock movement and preponderance of happy headlines:
Wrote Barron's: "Research in Motion Set for Short-Term Bounce: The BlackBerry maker will see some temporary catalysts this week."
Not to be outdone, Wall Street Cheat Sheet, before even seeing the earnings, declared a turning point: "Is RIMM Finally Catching a Break?"
Deep breath here, folks.
As we noted in this space just last week, RIM's last earnings report was more train wreck than financial event.
"At the time (June), AllThingsD ran a headline for the ages: `RIM Earnings: Oh, the Humanity!'
Ironically, that, and even an accompanying photograph of the ill-fated Hindenburg, might have understated the case.
RIM reported a gaping wound of a first-quarter, with a loss of 37 cents per share on revenue that declined 42 percent. That missed expectations (hope for this zombie of a company apparently springs eternal). Plus, the company announced yet another delay of the Blackberry 10 and a sharp decline in BlackBerry shipments."
RIM might eventually turn it around. It's at least metaphysically possible, if highly unlikely. But assuming second-quarter success after a first-quarter like that defines cockeyed optimism.
Look: that happy Barron's headline is built on the thoughts of a single analyst with an opinion so hedged it should be dismissed... then stomped on. Pointing to the company's reiteration that the BlackBerry 10 is coming soon (we'll believe it when we see it) and an impression that RIM's cash position and subscriber count might edge expectations, the analyst says the stock could "bounce slightly" in the short run. But long-term, the outlook is still "precarious" and the analyst does not even have the conviction to recommend it.
If there is one rule to live by in trading, it's this: don't take risk of a big downside for a slight gain. Trading RIM as Barron's suggests defies that rule.
So remember the answer to our question: Should you buy RIM in the prelude to their earnings? Most definitely not.