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RIM: Get Set for More Disappointment

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Research In Motion (RIMM) reports its first-quarter results after market close on Thursday although investors have minimal expectations from the beleaguered handset giant.

Even the first glimpse of the BlackBerry 10 operating system last month did little to placate the company's long-suffering investors. Then, RIM CEO Thorsten Heins forecast a first-quarter operating loss, further pressuring the company's stock.

Could things get any worse for the embattled Canadian firm? Quite possibly, said analysts.

"We see the situation at RIM continuing to deteriorate from both a competitive and product perspective," explained Credit Suisse analyst Kulbinder Garcha, in a recent note. "Given the limited disclosure around the preannouncement there could be further risks to the downside."

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters are looking for RIM to report a loss of 1 cent a share on revenue of $3.11 billion, compared to earnings of $1.33 a share on sales of $4.9 billion in the same period last year.

Credit Suisse's Garcha, however, expects RIM's first-quarter revenue to come in at $2.68 billion, weighed down by sales of just 7.2 million BlackBerry devices with an average selling price (ASP) of $209. Consensus estimates are calling for sales of 8.7 million BlackBerrys at an ASP of $224, according to the analyst.

During the same period last year, RIM sold 13.2 million of its famous smartphones.

"Customer churn and hardware losses [are] likely to continue," noted Garcha. "In spite of the company's push toward a new platform (OS and ecosystem), we believe these efforts may prove too little too late."

Rocked by delayed product launches and increasingly fierce competition from Apple's (AAPL - Get Report) iPhone, Google's (GOOG - Get Report) Android phones and Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows phones, investors have fled RIM in droves.

RIM shares have plunged more than 67% over the last 12 months and are down almost 37% in 2012. Apple, in contrast, has climbed more than 73% and 41%, respectively.

Sure, Heins gave a sneak peek of the much-delayed BlackBerry 10 operating system recently, but the technology did nothing to lift the company's stock. On the contrary, RIM's shares closed down almost 6% after Heins showed off the OS at a developer conference in Florida.

TheStreet will be live-blogging RIM's earnings, starting at 3: 45 p.m. EDT.
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