Research In Motion A Takeover Target? That’s Hard To Believe


BELLWORT TECHNOLOGIES PVT. LTD.

Adding fuel to the fire, Macquarie USA analyst Kevin Smithen this afternoon launched coverage of the company with an Outperform rating and $40 price target. His basic thesis is that Research In Motion’s international business and services arms are worth more than the Street generally believes.

“RIM’s numerous challenges have been well-documented in recent downgrades, earnings reports and press articles: delayed product launches, insufficient and misallocated R&D, poor management reaction to changing industry trends, subpar communication with investors, strengthening competition, falling ASPs, and ineffective CEO and Board structure ring the loudest,” he writes. “We view these risks, both self-inflicted and structural, as formidable but not yet insurmountable. We believe that RIM’s international business and its software and services segments have a longer tail than many shareholders expect and that current share prices already imply negative value for the U.S. device and tablet businesses.”

In the same report, Smith writes that with an enterprise value of “just” $10.4 billion and with significant IP, the company is “a potential takeout candidate for multiple cash-rich mature tech names.” He even suggests that “local Canadian banks and pensions could act to take RIM private.” Adding some gasoline to the fire, he notes that Microsoft’s deal with Nokia is non-exclusive, asserting that “MSFT needs to make bold moves to gain credibility in mobile.” His list of potential acquirers includes pretty much every tech company not run by Steve Jobs: HP, Dell, Oracle, Cisco, Microsoft and SAP.

Suggesting that RIMM is a takeover target certainly sounds like a heroic call, but seriously, do you really think any of the companies on that list would buy RIM? I don’t.

Let’s walk through them:

HP? They’re still trying to integrate Palm, and they’ve made a major commitment, for better or worse, to WebOS. And CEO Leo Apotheker has declared an intention to build up the company’s position in enterprise software. Buy RIM? No way.
Dell? Ha! The company is ratcheting up their spending on the data center, and trying to move away from being strictly a device company. Highly doubtful. Would RIM plus Dell be any more competitive with Apple and Android than RIM alone?
Oracle? Larry Ellison does not want to be in a business as consumer-dependent as this one has become. Not Oracle’s style.
Cisco? Get real. The market would run John Chambers out of town. Chambers in the past has flat-out denied any interest in making handsets. The Street wants the company to focus on the core, not to tack on a handset company. No.
Microsoft? A well-worn rumor, but hard to believe Steve Ballmer would buy RIM while trying to make a go of the deal with Nokia. I suppose you could tie them all together – RIM, Nokia and Windows Phone – and pretend that you really had something. But I find such a possibility hard to believe. That would be like thinking you could build a really nice raft by tying three bricks together.
SAP? Now, that’s just ridiculous. What does SAP know about hardware, or handsets, or Canada? No. Nein. Not happening.
Canadian pension funds. Well, I have no idea how Canadian pension funds think. Who knows? But do you really want to own the stock on that theory?
Look, all of this talk about someone buying RIM fails to recognize the basic underlying dynamics of the market. Apple and the Android gang are simply wiping out the rest of the players in the handset market. RIM, HP, Nokia, Microsoft…it will not be easy for any of them to stay relevant in the rapidly evolving market for mobile devices. Would you actually want to go out and buy a handset company that is hemorrhaging market share? At today’s close, RIM had a market cap of $15 billion; with even a modest premium such a deal could cost a buyer close to $20 billion – and leave them with the task of turning around a plummeting business. I simply don’t think that is a likely scenario.

True, even Palm found a buyer – but for $1.2 billion, not $20 billion. Some day, a bottom-fisher could take a flier on RIM. But I don’t think we’re anywhere near the bottom.

BELLWORT TECHNOLOGIES PVT. LTD.

SWATI JAIN

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One response to this post.

  1. good and informative post.

    Reply

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