RIM shares down on analyst's report saying BB10 phones coming in March

TORONTO – One analyst’s research note speculating that the next generation of BlackBerry smartphones won’t hit shelves until March left shares of Research In Motion (TSX:RIM) falling on Tuesday.

The company’s stock closed 5.5 per cent weaker on the Toronto Stock Exchange, down 44 cents to $7.62.

The latest descent in RIM’s volatile stock came after Jeffries and Co. analyst Peter Misek published a note saying he believes it is “more likely” that RIM won’t roll out its new phones until the end of the calendar first quarter.

“We believe plans for a January launch have now been pushed back until March,” Misek wrote in a note.

RIM has never disclosed exactly when it plans to launch the new touchscreen phones, other than saying it would be during the first three months of the new year. Analysts have widely agreed that January seemed like a reasonable timeframe.

Launching in January or February would also potentially allow RIM to bolster financial results for its fourth quarter, which ends on March 2.

Misek said that with no new BlackBerry products to sell before then, retailers have grown cautious about holding RIM inventory — and the uncertainty will delay any potential licensing deals.

He set at price target of $5 on RIM based on its Nasdaq listing.

A launch late in the first quarter of the calendar year would also potentially push ahead the debut of RIM’s physical keyboard version into the second quarter. Chief executive Thorsten Heins has said the physical keyboard version will come about one to two months later than the touchscreen model.

RIM has been plagued by cooly received launches for products such as the PlayBook tablet and delays in bringing the BB10 operating system and devices to market.

It has also lost market share to Apple’s iPhone and devices running the Android operating system.

Last month, RIM reported a quarterly loss of US$235 million or 45 cents per diluted share compared with a profit of $329 million or 63 cents per share a year ago.

The company’s adjusted loss was $142 million or 27 cents per share. While large, RIM’s loss was still much better than the 47 cents per share loss expected by analysts polled by Bloomberg.

The company reports third-quarter results on Dec. 20.