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RIM Outlook Not So Grim

Stocks in this article: RIMM AAPL NOK

Research In Motion's (RIMM) BlackBerry sales are running at a better clip than Wall Street may be fearing, according to one analyst.

After studying data from distributors and resellers, RBC analyst Mike Abramsky says there's been "resilient demand" for RIM phones, including Verizon's (VZ) Storm and the Curve.

For the quarter ending in May, Abramsky estimates that RIM will ship 8 million phones, which would be a 6% sequential increase over his 7.57 million estimate for the prior quarter. The more pessimistic analysts' consensus calls for no increase.

The sunnier RIM forecast coincides with the Wednesday release of Gartner's fourth-quarter 2008 smartphone market share report showing No. 1 Nokia (NOK) sliding fast at the hands of rivals including RIM and Apple (AAPL). Nokia's smartphone sales fell 17% in the fourth quarter, pushing its total share of the market down to 40.8% from 50.9%.

Investors have taken a suddenly cautious view of RIM after the company reported last month a startling decline in its gross margins. The news helped confirm suspicions that RIM was moving painfully out of its lucrative business services niche and into the brutal consumer market with its higher costs and lower profits.

RIM shares have fallen 32% in the past month. In pre-market trading Wednesday, RIM was up 80 cents, or 2%, to $39.76.

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