Shares of BlackBerry developer Research in Motion set a 52-week low of $12.66 Tuesday, continuing their plunge following ithe company's report of lower third quarter results and a disappointing fourth quarter forecast.
RIM shares plunged 13 percent Friday and fell another 4.5 percent Monday. In early Tuesday trading, the shares declined another 1.8 percent.
The losses lower the market value of the once high-flying enterprise communications company to only $6.7 billion, a nearly 80 percent drop for 2011. Several analysts compared that to just the value of Apple's app store as a freestanding unit. Apple's market capitalization is $365 billion.
Late Thursday, RIM reported third-quarter net income on continuing operations of $1.27 a share, ahead of estimates, as revenue dipped 6 percent to $5.2 billion. Including a charge to write off unsold BlackBerry PlayBooks, net income plummeted to $265 million, or 51 cents a share, from $1.74 a share a year ago.
It's a seemingly inexorable process by which their business is slowing down, analyst David Garrity of GVA told International Business Times.
The BlackBerry developer based in Waterloo, Ontario said it now has 75 million customers, despite the October snafu that clogged its e-mail servers for three days. Garrity said that base is enviable but needs to be reassured about good service as well as hopes RIM will launch an e-mail compatible PlayBook tablet in the first half of 2012.
In an investor call, founding co-CEOs Mike Laziridis and James Balsillie, who each own 10 percent of the company, promised better performance ahead as well as better communications.
Still, they didn't offer a timetable for a PlayBook that will compete better against Apple's iPad line or for definite shipment of the BlackBerry 10 phones to succeed the current BlackBerry 7 line.
While two activist investors, Toronto's Victor Alboini via Jaguar Financial and New York's Leon Cooperman through Omega Advisers, have scooped up less than 10 percent of RIM's shares, others have been slow to join. Alboini had hoped Canadian financial institutions would join him starting in September to shake up management or sell the company.
While RIM reported cash holdings of $1.5 billion, investors wondered if that will be enough to tide it over.
GVA's Garrity suggested that further mishaps by RIM might leave it prone to a takeover bid from a friendly buyer such as Finland's Nokia or Microsoft, which plans to unveil its OS 8 for tablets next year.
Conceivably, he told IBTimes, even Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple, sans Jobs might not completely execute its strategic plan and bid for RIM to obtain its enterprise customers and intellectual property should forthcoming iPhones not be as consumer pleasing as the current iPhone 4S.
Earlier this year, RIM was a member of the Apple-led syndicate that paid $4.5 billion for patents from Nortel Networks. RIM has acknowledged its share was at least $780 million.
Balsillie cited particularly weak U.S. performance in smartphone sales in the third quarter, during which Apple introduced its bestselling iPhone 4S. RIM's share of the U.S. market dipped to 9.2 percent from 24 percent in 2010 in the quarter, market researcher Canalys said.
Garrity suggested that RIM investors may lose patience if the company continues with major writeoffs. If they keep doing $485 million writeoffs, what will that do to their credibiliy?, he told IBTimes. Cash flow of $375 million a quarter, which could slip in the current one due to a forecast of lower sales, could create a pinch.
RIM predicted sales of 11 million and 12 million smartphones this quarter, compared with 14.1 million in the third quarter along with only 110,000 PlayBooks.
Jaguar's Alboini previously told IBTimes RIM ought to conduct a patent auction to determine the value of its intellectual property. Neither co-CEO commented on that idea, although they said the company was exploring many options.
Meanwhile shares of RIM's rivals including Apple and Google both rose in early Tuesday trading. Apple shares rose nearly 3 percent to $392.91 while Google shares rose 1.3 percent, to $629.99.