Don't say you weren't warned. When Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM ) failed to impress a jaded Street gang last night, the BlackBerry maker's stock was taken behind the woodshed for a good old-fashioned beating.
The first-quarter results themselves weren't bad. Revenue of $2.24 billion was more than double the year-ago haul, and it was up 18% from last quarter. Earnings per share came in at $0.84 per diluted share, up from $0.39 per share last year. Most companies would sell their aunts for a quarter like that, but it wasn't good enough by RIM's standards; analysts were expecting around $0.87 per share.
Sales for the next fiscal quarter are supposed to land at a strong $2.6 billion, give or take $50 million or so. But increased marketing and R&D expenses will bring next quarter's earnings between $0.84 and $0.89 per share at best -- slightly below the current consensus estimates of around $0.90. And so the stock price took an immediate 12% dive.
The company appears to be gearing up for war. The next-generation Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) iPhone will hit store shelves in a couple of weeks, and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) has handset partners like Motorola (NYSE: MOT ) and Samsung lined up for the launch of its Android platform a couple of months later. Nokia (NYSE: NOK ) is nibbling at the BlackBerry's traditional home field with new models of a corporate-use slant, and Sony (NYSE: SNE ) Ericsson (Nasdaq: ERIC ) might jump aboard that Android bandwagon, too. The competition looks ready to launch a massive onslaught on everything the BlackBerry is doing right in the enterprise market.
So I don't think that RIM's increased spending is the real reason for the price drop today, nor do I think the lowered earnings guidance is to blame. Instead, these items were taken as confirmation that the company is readying for a fight -- and it's a battle it might not win. Today's drop was steep, but the stock still trades at 55 times trailing earnings at prices not seen since late April. It can still fall a lot further ...