RIM denies report it may split company

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion is dismissing a weekend newspaper report that said it was weighing the possibility of splitting the company into two separate parts – one for its handset division and one for its messaging services.

RIM shares at lowest level since 2003

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion is dismissing a weekend newspaper report that claimed it was weighing the possibility of splitting its business into two separate parts. 

The Sunday Times, which did not cite sources for its report, said the tech company could spin off its handset division to a company like Amazon or Facebook, or turn it into a separately listed company. 

Under this scenario, RIM's messaging network could then be separated from its struggling handset business.

Another option would be for RIM to remain as a single company but sell a stake to a bigger tech firm like Microsoft, the Times said. 

RIM 3-month TSX trading

But RIM said on Monday its turnaround strategy revolves around new product launches and future cost savings, not splitting up the company. 

"RIM has hired advisers to help the company examine ways to leverage the BlackBerry platform through partnerships, licensing opportunities and strategic business model alternatives," RIM said in a statement.

"As [CEO] Thorsten [Heins] said on the company's fourth-quarter earnings call: 'We believe the best way to drive value for our stakeholders is to execute on our plan to turn the company around.'

"This remains true."

Last month, RIM hired JPMorgan Chase and RBC Capital Markets to explore strategic alternatives for the embattled company, which has seen its share of the smartphone market plunge.

RIM will report its latest quarterly results on Thursday. It's expected to report an operating loss as BlackBerry sales continue to slow. In a statement issued in late May, CEO Thorsten Heins said the "ongoing competitive environment" was affecting its business, resulting in lower sales and "highly competitive pricing dynamics." He said that would likely lead to an operating loss for the first quarter. 

Heins hopes to help RIM weather its competitive storm through operational savings of $1 billion by the end of fiscal 2013. Most of those savings are expected to come through staff layoffs. The company is also pinning its turnaround hopes on a new generation of BlackBerry 10 smartphones, set to launch later this year   

But many analysts aren't impressed. Morgan Stanley downgraded RIM stock from "equal weight" to "under weight" Monday, citing "rapidly deteriorating fundamentals" over the next nine months.

RIM shares have lost more than two-thirds of their value in the last year. The stock shed 76 cents to close at $9.36 in TSX trading Monday.  That's a nine-year low for RIM shares.   

With files from The Canadian Press