When shares soar as high and as fast as those of Canadian wireless messaging specialist Research In Motion
Over the past 12 months, the company's share price has shot from $10.76 to $99.49, and for good reason. Business at Research In Motion has been going gangbusters. Telecom carriers can't get enough of the firm's handheld message solutions. T-Mobile and Cingular, the two leading BlackBerry carrier partners, point to high-growth demand from on-the-go professional and business customers. Analysts expect North American shipments to double by the fourth quarter of 2006.
It doesn't stop there. With more than a million users already signed up in North America, Research In Motion has its sights set on international expansion. In Europe, companies are sending strong signals that they are ready to adopt the BlackBerry. CLS, a wireless carrier in Hong Kong, has agreed to sell the email device to its business customers. Hong Kong could serve as a platform for a launch into mainland China.
Research In Motion continues to make progress on its licensing strategy. During the quarter, Samsung, the third-largest wireless carrier agreed to license BlackBerry technology for use on its handhelds. The shift to licensing will plump up margins and could ultimately transform the company to a pure services and software licensing business akin to Qualcomm
Research In Motion's balance sheet looks great. Thanks to a well-timed equity placing, its bank account stands at almost $1.5 billion. A sum of $125 million will be used to fund ongoing operations, leaving about $14.00 per share in cold, hard cash sitting on the balance sheet ready to be used for R&D and expansion.
To be fair, some caution is still in order. Research In Motion trades at a whopping 99 times 2004 earnings. Looking further out, at 34 times 2005 earnings and 23 times 2006 estimates, makes the stock a tad pricey. Dell
Sure, the price looks rich, and it's still hard to gauge exactly how Research In Motion will eventually fit into the competitive playing field. But, to put it lightly, with 30% earnings growth in sight, prospects for the next couple of years look splendid. Revenue from each new subscriber flows straight to the bottom line, and each new carrier deal offers another reason for more upside. Just imagine what a China deal could mean. It's hard, then, to let go of Research In Motion, given its promising outlook.
Has Research In Motion peaked, or will untapped overseas markets keep the wireless provider on a tear? Talk it over with other Fools on the Research In Motion discussion board.
Motley Fool contributor Ben McClure hails from the Great White North. Ben doesn't own any shares mentioned here.