The title of my article will definitely please investors in Research In Motion (RIMM). The Blackberry maker has started lab testing the new Blackberry 10 smartphones, meaning that the devices should be on track for their Q1 2013 release. Research In Motion shares have jumped 19% in the past few days on this news, putting shares at levels we have not seen since after the company's latest earnings report.
In an e-mailed statement, Research In Motion CEO Thorsten Heins said the following:
"In the last week, BlackBerry 10 achieved lab entry with more than 50 carriers -- a key step in our preparedness for the launch of BlackBerry 10 in the first quarter of 2013."
Chris Umiastowski, an independent technology consultant who tracks the company, stated that carrier testing generally takes 60 to 90 days. If that is true, it would set up Research In Motion to launch the BB10 devices sometime in January. While that would not get them out for the holiday season, I think a January launch would be ahead of schedule for the company. The overall opinion seems to be that a February or March launch is in the cards. Depending on how long the tests take, some carriers might be able to release the devices before other carriers, unless Research In Motion decides to launch them all at once.
But the news last week wasn't all positive for the company. It appears that the Pentagon may be looking at switching to either Apple's (AAPL) iPhone or Google's (GOOG) Android system. The Defense Information Systems Agency quietly posted a request for proposals on a federal website on October 22. That was the same day that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency said it would end its contract with Research In Motion in favor of Apple's iPhone. At the same time, the Pentagon said that they would still continue using Blackberry devices. Ultimately, the Pentagon is looking for software that can support 8 million devices, so there may be an opportunity for more than one system here.
Research In Motion losing more business is clearly a sign of the times. In the company's most recent quarter, it shipped 7.4 million smartphones, down from 10.6 million in the year ago period. Conversely, Apple sold 26.9 million iPhones in its latest quarter, and that was up from 17.1 million in the year ago period. With Apple's iPhone 5 selling as quickly as the company can build the device, Apple is poised to have a tremendous holiday season. Google's Android is also doing extremely well, as recent figures show. Android captured 75 percent of the global smartphone market in Q3. Google's purchase of Motorola Mobility has also improved its presence in the market. Apple and Google are likely to be smartphone giants going forward, and I haven't even mentioned other names like Samsung (SSNLF.PK) or Nokia (NOK).
Like I said in my opening, RIMM shares have popped 19% in the past few days, and the $8.71 close on Friday was the highest close since June 28th. Shares were above $8.80 in the extended hours after the company released its earnings last quarter, but that didn't last long, and shares closed well below that the next day. We have seen this story several times before. Shares pop quickly on an earnings report, or some company news, but they quickly retreat afterwards. I would not be surprised to see shares come down over the next couple of trading sessions.
Research In Motion has also seen a rise in its average revenue estimates from analysts. Even since my last update, estimates have continued to go higher. The third quarter analyst average for revenues has increased from $2.6 billion to $2.62 billion since my last update. The fiscal 2013 (ending in February 2013) average has risen from $11.05 billion to $11.1 billion. The average for fiscal 2014 has come up from $11.08 billion to $11.13 billion. Those numbers don't seem like much, but analysts are now expecting a revenue increase in fiscal 2014.
For those who believe that Blackberry 10 will revolutionize the world, or at least bring Research In Motion back from the depths of despair, this is a company that you might want to be long. However, because this name has a history of short-lived pops, those who are not that into it might want to wait a few days to see what happens when this stock settles down. Shares could easily lose a large chunk of this rally, or even all of it, over the next few days. That could provide an opportunity for investors to get into the name at levels we were at prior to the two day rally.
Additional disclosure: Investors are always reminded that before making any investment, you should do your own proper due diligence on any name directly or indirectly mentioned in this article. Investors should also consider seeking advice from a broker or financial adviser before making any investment decisions. Any material in this article should be considered general information, and not relied on as a formal investment recommendation.