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Once again, Tim does a pretty good job of making the bearish case for his own candidate. He concedes that Nokia has its warts: It recently announced layoffs, slashed its dividend for the second time this decade, and is coming off a horrendous quarter. Research In Motion, on the other hand, is coasting along as it gobbles up market share, cynics, and analyst targets.
Isn't that where you want to be as an investor?
That's a sweet 'Berry
One of the reader comments over the weekend poked fun at BlackBerry regarding a carrier promotion last winter. Verizon Wireless -- a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ ) and Vodafone (NYSE: VOD ) -- began offering a "buy one, get one free" deal on select BlackBerry devices in early February. The reader ribbed RIM's signature product as the "BOGOBerry!" (Buy One Get One...berry.) But assuming that this move revealed desperation on RIM's part seems to overlook how carriers work.
Wireless companies sell heavily subsidized phones, knowing that they will make up the losses on two-year contracts. Most wireless companies have no problem offering free Nokia handsets, as long as you commit to two years of service. After maximizing potential discounts, Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S ) will even pay you to take a Samsung Instinct off its hands.
But Samsung and Nokia still get paid for those sales, the same way Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) gets hundreds more than the $199 you're forking over to AT&T (NYSE: T ) for that iPhone. Even in the cases where the handset makers and carriers cave in a little to drive prices lower, the smartphone companies know exactly what they're doing.
RIM's numbers say it all. Verizon Wireless was moving BOGOBerrys for most of February during RIM's first quarter. In that time, RIM grew its bottom line by 25%, widened its market-share lead in domestic smartphones, and closed out the period with 25 million BlackBerry-texting jockeys.
This doesn't mean that Tim is wrong about owning Nokia. He's right about its enviable free cash flow generation and the company's pole position in emerging markets. However, I feel he'll do even better if he hops on the RIM bandwagon. The growth is already there -- and the stock gains will follow.
Other smart smartphone connections: