RIM: Canary in the enterprise spending coal mine?

Summary:There's a bit of a tug of war over Research In Motion's prospects. First, Bear Stearns cuts RIM from "outperform" to "peer perform" in a move that's largely based on the theory that RIM shares are too expensive.

There's a bit of a tug of war over Research In Motion's prospects.

First, Bear Stearns cuts RIM from "outperform" to "peer perform" in a move that's largely based on the theory that RIM shares are too expensive.

But the one notable item is that Bear Stearns analyst Andy Neff reckons that RIM will suffer first from any economic slowdown.

Check out the dance here. Neff writes:

"From a fundamental standpoint, we like RIM's outlook given strong demand for smartphones, RIM's business model (hw+sw+svcs) and its competitive position. In addition, channel checks indicate continued robust demand, with product launches (Curve/Wi-Fi, Pearl II) progressing on schedule."

From there, Neff even raises RIM's fiscal year earnings estimates. But Neff highlights some risks:

"While we have not seen any weakness in demand for RIMM, we're concerned about potential exposure to macro-related demand given high financial (30-40% of sales) and enterprise (75-80%) sales but small-ticket items are often affected first."

In other words, BlackBerry sales will be the proverbial canary in the enterprise spending coal mine. If RIM stumbles other enterprise technology companies could follow.

Neff may have a point since many technology companies sell heavily to financial services firms. And given that Wall Street layoffs are likely it's not clear that CrackBerries will be as addictive if your employer isn't paying for the devices.

Keep in mind that Neff's call is clearly in the minority here. Merrill Lynch analyst Vivek Arya said in a research note that RIM demand is strong and new Wi-Fi features on devices such as the 8820 are potentially a killer app for BlackBerry adoption.

For more BlackBerry information see Russell Shaw's blog and all ZDNet resources.

Topics: BlackBerry

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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