Canaccord Genuity analyst T. Michael Walkley crashed Research In Motion's (NASDAQ: BBRY ) party yesterday.
Injecting a sobering counter to the recent days of euphoric rallying, Walkley feels that the stock's torrid run -- up a meaty 86% since bottoming out three months ago -- is overdone.
There's a lot of buzz building for the smartphone pioneer's BB10 mobile operating system update, but his firm isn't convinced.
"We do not believe BB10 will return RIM to sustained profitability," he writes.
Those may be fighting words to RIM bulls that have benefited from their contrarian optimism in recent weeks, but it's not as if even the bulls are entirely sold that the company can bounce back with the refreshed platform that will be introduced on Jan. 30.
Goldman Sachs analyst Simona Jankowski -- one of last week's more vocal bulls in pushing her firm's price target from $9 to $16 -- sees only a 30% chance in BB10 being a success. Her price target is merely the weighted valuation based on the new operating system's fate. If it's a hit, the stock should trade sharply higher.
Walkley disagrees, downgrading the stock from hold to sell. His channel checks of the competitive landscape find folks continuing to dump BlackBerry devices in favor of Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL ) iPhones or smartphones running on Google's (NASDAQ: GOOGL ) industry-leading Android.
"Our checks do not indicate the consumer pull, carrier push or developer excitement necessary for BlackBerry 10 to reverse the challenging trends faced by RIM," he argues.
That's a perfect storm right there. Developers will always be a hard sell. They're going to make sure that their applications run on the devices that are popular, and for now that's making iOS and Android versions of the programs. RIM will have to follow Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT ) path by financially incentivizing prolific developers, but that's no guarantee of success.
Consumers may be easier to get. RIM closed out its latest quarter with roughly 80 million subscribers. BB10's been winning enough raves to sway many of those to stick with RIM. However, it's hard for a platform to be a hit if it lacks carrier and developer support. And, it probably goes without saying, but there's a reason why nobody is clamoring for a webOS smartphone these days. If RIM flops with this update, it's pretty much over for BlackBerry.
We'll see soon enough. RIM reports later this month, and then we'll get to the fireworks by the end of next month.
A little balance as we head into both of these important milestones isn't a bad thing.