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RIM stock gets boost despite latest high-profile exodus

Jennifer Kwan

Camp iPhone has wooed yet another BlackBerry user. But that has unfazed investors who continue to drive up shares of Research in Motion (RIM.TO or RIMM) ahead of its make or break launch of the new BB10 operating system early next year. Losing a customer on an old product line shouldn't put a dent in RIM's recent share rally.

The Washington-based National Transportation Safety Board, which employs some 400 people, is the latest American government agency to drop the BlackBerry, citing problems with performance. RIM stresses that government organizations around the world can continue to trust the reliability and security of BlackBerrys, according to media reports.

At one time, the move to Apple products may have been seen as another big lump for the embattled smartphone maker. But shares of Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM appear invincible right now as investors look ahead to the launch of BB10, slated for end of January. Shortly after the market open on Thursday, the stock jumped more than 12 per cent to $11.47 and has risen some 65 per cent since late September.

"RIM is going up on anticipation of its new product line. This is a decision on the old product line," says Todd Coupland, an analyst with CIBC.

The news follows RIM's recent announcement it will unveil its BB10 platform and new devices early next year after delays. As well, RIM was recently granted FIPS 140-2 certification, which enables governments to deploy the technology. The certification should comfort security-conscious organizations like the board.

In coming weeks, much focus will be on the results of carriers testing the new devices for compatibility with their networks. So far things seem promising. Tech analyst Peter Misek of New York-based Jeffries & Company nudged up the chances RIM's new operating system will be a competitive success in the smartphone market, citing surprisingly strong support among some wireless carriers.

But a successful launch is far from a sure thing. Pacific Crest analyst James Faucette recently warned that BlackBerry 10 is likely to be "DOA," or dead on arrival, predicting a lukewarm response due in part to due to the new and unfamiliar user interface.