Recently, I happened to glance through reports stating that ailing BlackBerry handset-maker Research in Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM ) is considering splitting its hardware and services businesses, or even considering a possible sale to Amazon or Facebook. But, individuals close to the situation later dismissed these reports, dubbing the whole instance as "a silly fantasy."
People close to RIM went on to say that such a move would achieve nothing, and that it would rather boost shareholder value by following a turnaround strategy involving the release of newer devices in the coming months.
First of all, the premise of selling RIM’s entire business to the likes of Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) doesn’t really make sense when you’re already in the process of churning out a new product. Also, Mr. Softy has his own problems in the smartphone business, given its relationship with ailing device maker Nokia (NYSE: NOK ) . Moreover, selling off the company’s hardware business, while retaining its software business and vice-versa, can be likened to clapping with just one hand, as the two divisions require each other’s cooperation for seamless integration.
Does RIM really look like a value at current levels?
A bargain price?
Take it this way -- RIM’s market cap currently stands at around $5 billion, while the intangible assets on its balance sheet are valued at about $3.3 billion. But, that’s just a theoretical value and, given the patent wars that tech giants such as Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) have been waging all these years, RIM’s patents could be valued at more than that. If you're not enthused by intangibles, consider the fact that RIM’s $5 billion market cap is currently below its tangible book value, estimated at about $6.5 billion. that might seem to be a good enough reason to buy the stock; however, there are problems that you need to take into account, as well.
RIM has seen its net income decline sharply over the last few quarters, to end in a loss of $125 million during its latest fourth quarter results. The company has also gone on record to warn investors that its operating profit could dip into the red in its forthcoming quarter.
To control the damage, the company has been laying off staff to cut its operating expenses, targeting $1 billion in savings. Unfortunately, cost cutting alone won’t be good enough to solve all of its problems.
Making a come back
On the bright side, RIM is planning to introduce devices based on the all-new BlackBerry 10 platform by the end of this year. Will it be too late by then? The company claims that it would make available two main types of BB10 devices. Its L-Series would have a large 4.2 inch screen without a physical keyboard, and its N-Series would have a smaller 3.1 inch screen, but with a traditional QWERTY keyboard.
Not exactly ground breaking in the features department, but it will be interesting to see how well these devices sell once they're released. Apple and Nokia are also set to release new phones later this year, possibly rendering RIM’s new BB10-based phones obsolete in the process.
The Foolish bottom Line
RIM’s stock seems undervalued for now, but at the same time, the future prospects of the company seem quite uncertain. If you’re interested in staying up to speed with RIM’s progress, consider adding it to your free watchlist. RIM may not be an ideal play in the long term, but you can check out our free report that highlights one winner for the nascent technology trend of "big data." The report is entitled "The Only Stock You Need To Profit From the NEW Technology Revolution," and you can claim a copy of it, absolutely free of charge, by clicking here now.