Today's Outrage: Wiggling Around RIM

Is the RIM rally for real? Are the Blackberry Storm and the Bold giving Apple's iPhone a run for the money? Is it time to buy the stock? It's hard to tell from analyst ratings.
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It seems like only yesterday everyone was writing off

Research In Motion

(RIMM)

, as the maker of the BlackBerry got traded in for a new love --

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

and its iPhone.

Now

RIM

is all the rage again with its touch-screen Blackberry Storm and the apparently super-fast BlackBerry Bold -- I'm sure you've seen the ads.

(Photo gallery: Smart Phones)

To go with the buzz RIM is generating, its shares have gained 45% since 2009 began, closing yesterday at $59.

So is the RIM rally for real? Well, some analysts seem to think so -- if you judge solely by their recent increases in the price targets for RIM.

Merrill Lynch raised its price target to $67 from $57 while reiterating its buy rating on the stock; UBS took its target price up to $57 from $42 while sticking to a neutral rating, according to

Barron's

.

That sounds pretty bullish, right? Well, not so fast.

Merrill -- now part of

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report

-- has been saying to buy RIM since at least 2006. Merrill said to buy RIM when the stock was down around $20 in July 2006, and still said buy when RIM shares rose above $140 back in June 2008, according to

Bloomberg

data.

At least UBS changed its rating to neutral back in September when RIM's share price dropped about $30 after the company provided a profit forecast well below expectations amid growing competition from the iPhone. But UBS hasn't touched the neutral rating since, despite a broad swing in the shares from above $60 to around $36 and back up to $60 again. Looks like there might have been a buying period in there somewhere.

To be fair, it's been hit and miss with RIM until recently, with the stock's 52-week range spanning a Grand Canyon-sized chasm of $35 to $148. These days, the price-earnings ratio is on par with rivals at 18.72 compared with an industry average of 19.

Apple, meanwhile, is up 20% this year and closed at $102.52 Monday, leaning a little toward the low end of its 52-week range of $78 to $192. Apple's P/E is at 18.2.

I'm not sure any of the other alleged rivals are worth mentioning. But I'll point out that once-mighty

Nokia

(NOK) - Get Report

is

struggling

, with shares down 15% this year to $13.22, near its 52-week low and offering a P/E of 9.59.

Palm

(PALM)

seems to be recovering

from its near-death experience when its shares dropped to $1, but even after a 162% surge this year, the stock is still only at $8.03 and the P/E is negative.

So is it time to buy RIM?

Don't bother asking the analysts.

Hall is the editor of

TheStreet.com

. Previously, he served as deputy editor and chief innovation officer at

The Orange County Register

and as a news manager at

Bloomberg News

in Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Washington, D.C. As a reporter, he covered business and financial markets, worked in both print and television in the U.S. and Europe, and conducted in-depth investigative coverage at

The Journal-Gazette

in Fort Wayne, Ind. His work also has been published in a variety of newspapers including

The Wall Street Journal

,

The New York Times

and

International Herald Tribune

. Hall received a bachelor�s degree in journalism and political science from The Ohio State University and has taken graduate management science courses at Boston University.