Shares of BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd. (Nasdaq: RIMM) rocketed 7 percent Friday as investors gambled that its new CEO can turn the company around or that it will be acquired.
The stock closed at $14.70 a share, up 97 cents, on volume of 87 million shares, far more than a typical trading day. On Thursday, the Canadian company reported a record fourth-quarter loss of $125 million, or 24 cents a share, on revenue that plunged 25 percent to $4.19 billion.
Friday's surge may have been a reaction to the strategy of new chief executive Thorsten Heins. The 54-year-old German engineer has been in the top job just 68 days but said Thursday that he was conducting a strategic review of the company and indicated he's open to a sale. RIM under Heins has taken a charge of $621 million, ousted the company's chief technology and operating officers and booted co-founder Jim Balsillie from the board of directors.
As a result, Heins said he was open to partnerships, technology-sharing, sales of patents and intellectual property, and other moves to restore profit and luster to the company whose BlackBerry devices created the enterprise messaging market.
RIM now has about 77 million users on its BlackBerrys worldwide.
To be sure, others may have bet the company might be acquired. Activist investor Victor Alboini, whose Jaguar Financial owns a significant share of RIM shares, said in an interview that RIM, as we know it, won't be around in a year.
Alboini, whose initial investment stimulated others, including Leon Cooperman's Omega Advisers to also buy into the company, suggested RIM could be sold in entirety or at least sell a large chunk of its patent portfolio.
Analyst Peter Misek suggested interested parties could include Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) or Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), although neither would likely want such large enterprise exposure.
Alboini suggested a bidder such as International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) or Germany's SAP AG (NYSE: SAP) might welcome RIM's customer base.
Despite Friday's surge, RIM's shares are up only 1.4 percent since the start of 2012. Over the past 12 months, they have lost 74 percent.