BlackBerry: Pricey Produce

Oh, how the wind blows cold in Waterloo, Ontario. A check of my weather tracker shows that the home of Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) is expecting a high of 32 degrees (Fahrenheit) and a low of 29 on Thursday. Brrrrr! That's almost as cold as the market's reaction to the stock over the past year.

It didn't get any better on Wednesday, when the shares fell by roughly 1% in advance of the company's third-quarter earnings report. But a thaw may be on the way. RIM's Q3 results were pretty impressive by most standards. For example, sales of $560.6 million represented a 53% jump over the same period a year ago. Net income also went higher, rising 33% to $0.61 per stub. And that's including a $0.10-per-share drag on earnings from the writedown of intangible assets related to its patent brawl with NTP.

Investors appear to be impressed. During the wee hours as I write (I'm an early bird), shares of Research In Motion are going for $66 a stub. That's up nearly 7% from Wednesday's close. There's no guarantee that such momentum will continue, of course. It just seems more likely than not.

And that has me wondering: Have some investors forgotten the risks to RIM? Look, I understand that the stock lately has been as popular as Bill Gates at a Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) rally, but this isn't exactly the time for unbridled enthusiasm, either. Take subscriber additions, for example. RIM announced that it had to lower fourth-quarter guidance to between 700,000 and 750,000 net new customers. And Q3's gain of 645,000 subscribers fell 25,000 short of prior estimates, according to the Associated Press.

This isn't to somehow suggest that Research In Motion's performance is deteriorating. Far from it. It's just worth remembering that this is still a premium-priced stock. Though its projected growth rates heartily exceed those of its peer companies, so do its forward and trailing price-to-earnings ratios, and that prices in an inherent volatility/risk to its competitors. What's more, the market considers RIM to be nine times more valuable than rival and Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation Palm (Nasdaq: PALM  ) , which recently re-established a nice growth pattern of its own. Is that really fair? Maybe. But it most certainly is not what I would call cheap. You've been warned.

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Fool contributorTim Beyerslikes his Palm Treo more and more every day. Tim didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story at the time of publication. You can find out what's in his portfolio by checking Tim's Foolprofile. The Motley Fool has an ironcladdisclosure policy.


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