RIM shares were worth double digits for the first time since June on Tuesday as a major analyst saying the company's odds of succeeding with BlackBerry 10 next year are greater than most people think.
Analyst Peter Misek of N.Y.-based investment firm Jeffries & Co. said in a note Tuesday he thinks the company has a 20 to 30 per cent chance of succeeding when it launches its long-overdue line of smartphones, BlackBerry 10, in early 2013.
That's not exactly a safe bet, but it's much better than the 10 to 20 per cent chance of success he foresaw earlier. He also upgraded the stock from "underperform" to a "hold" rating.
He also raised his 12-month target price from $5 to $10.
That was enough to send RIM shares higher in early trading on the TSX. Shortly after opening, RIM shares were changing hands at $10.03. That's their highest level since June 21.
By the close, some of those gains had been erased. But the vote of confidence from an influential analyst was a shot in the arm for Waterloo, Ont.-based Research in Motion Ltd. and the shares ended the day trading up 11 cents, or more than one per cent, at $9.70.
Misek said the reason for his optimism is support from the carriers who are going to offer the devices to their retail and enterprise customers.
"Preliminary results from our quarterly handset survey indicate developed market carriers have a much more positive view of BB10 than we expected," Misek said in a research note.
"With greater carrier shelf space and marketing support, we now believe BB10 has a 20 per cent to 30 per cent probability of success," he said.
Misek said carriers' optimism was unexpected, given the two-year delay in bringing the devices to market, a time during which RIM's market share of the worldwide smartphone market has dwindled to under five per cent.
But it's understandable considering the alternative — cellular landscape where companies have to ally themselves behind one of two monoliths, Apple or Google, in order to get the latest devices.
"Our theory is that carriers see BB10 as one of their last chances to avoid being locked into a long-term smartphone OS duopoly," he said, referring to Apple and Android operating systems.
Despite its status as a smartphone pioneer, RIM is often criticized for being left behind in the web-browsing component, an area where Apple's iPhone and Google-powered Android devices have made substantial gains in recent years.
Fixing that problem will be key to winning back the consumer market, which will be the "ultimate determinate" of RIM's fortunes, Misek said.