RIM Lays Down Burden
Although the settlement offer is a significant amount for RIM, the outstanding balance represents just a third of the $814 million in cash and short-term investments the company had on hand at the end of its third quarter. Indeed, many analysts were worried the company would have to pay far more, including a hefty ongoing royalty fee. Had NTP prevailed in the case, it could have barred RIM from offering its services anywhere in the U.S., which is by far its most important market.
NTP "could have gotten more," said one analyst at an independent research shop, who also asked to remain anonymous. "$450 million is nothing to RIM."
"They could pay $1 billion and probably go out and raise more tomorrow," added the analyst, who has no position in RIM and whose firm does no investment banking.
The fears about the lawsuit helped send RIM's shares spiraling downward. The company's stock hit $103.56 on the day of the December appeals court ruling, but ended up closing at $85.44. As recently as Friday, the company's stock was trading near $60.In addition to the lawsuit, bears have been playing up the competitive threats to RIM. On Friday, for instance, Good Technology, the company's chief rival, signed its own licensing deal with NTP, a move that had the potential to strengthen NTP's position in its dispute with RIM. Nokia (NOK) has also licensed NTP's technology, and many analysts have feared Microsoft's (MSFT) potential in the wireless email market. But bulls have dismissed the competitive threat in the past and thought little more of it after the settlement announcement on Tuesday. RIM has consistently beaten Good Technology to date, and Nokia has yet to come out with a competing product, they noted. "The bottom line is that the market is growing," said the buy-side analyst. As long as RIM provides a good product, they should get their share. I don't see Good or Nokia growing faster than RIM."
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