Kill RIM, Burn the Corpse and Buy Speculative Nokia

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- TheStreet published several excellent accounts of Research in Motion's ( RIMM) quarterly conference call carnage. Most responses contain an ironic mix of yeah, we expected this and disbelief.

On one hand, RIM's ineptness comes as no surprise. Yet, on the other, you have to wonder how one company can continue to do so many things so horribly wrong.

It's high time for Apple ( AAPL) to embarrass RIM one last time on the way out. With the Waterloo Store leading the promotion, Apple should set up a no-questions-asked smartphone exchange. Sort of like the events they do in Los Angeles where gang members can drop off firearms and, "no questions asked," receive a $50 gift card to Wal-Mart ( WMT) or some other assortment of cash and prizes.

Apple could quite possibly put RIM out of business in the U.S. and Canada by giving up a free iPhone if you're willing to stomp on, turn in and recycle your old BlackBerry (after saving all of your contacts) in a public display of unbridled aggression. For many diehard BlackBerry users this amounts to renouncing one's citizenship via flag-burning ceremony. It would be a somewhat fitting end to RIM's nightmare, particularly because, at this stage, we're only still watching out of some demented quest for entertainment.

But seriously people, it's not simply that Apple deserves virtually all credit (or responsibility) for RIM's implosion. Plenty of companies lost or are losing to Apple. It's RIM's cluelessness in the face of failure that sets it apart.

Microsoft ( MSFT) finally looks prepared to make a meaningful challenge via Xbox and the cross-platform Windows 8 OS. It deserves a look from investors, particularly as the holiday season approaches and Microsoft presumably steps up advertising for its Surface tablet and smartphones. Despite media hysteria to the contrary, expect Nokia ( NOK) to play a key role in this effort.

As I explained in Buy Nokia, Prepare RIM's Grave (Déjà vu Edition), no matter the outcome, Nokia already deserves much more credit than RIM.

As a company, Nokia failed just as horribly as RIM. It did not, however, stand stubbornly pat. Instead, it acted fast to change management, blew up the dying Symbian platform and hooked up with Microsoft to help lead the Windows Phone charge.

While Nokia sits in a difficult spot, it has new product on the market and more new product to come before the end of the year. Windows 8 will be part of the conversation come fall and come Christmas; that, in and of itself, gives Nokia the upper hand over RIM.

If Windows 8 emerges as a true mobile competitor to Apple and Google's ( GOOG) Android, one or two things will happen to NOK.

Success for Windows 8, if nothing else, gives Nokia a dead cat bounce while investors wait for the dust to settle. In other words, a triumphant Microsoft spawns NOK as a derivative play. The initial slate of Lumia smartphones has been little more than a dry run. Whatever Nokia reports in earnings this month, even if positive, is neither here nor there. It doesn't matter. All that matters is what happens with the Windows 8-related launches.

Admittedly, that argument is just a shade sexier than the one that says "buy RIMM because somebody will acquire its carcass."

But, with NOK, you are, at least, making a legitimate speculative play. RIMM has nothing on the horizon until early 2013. And, given the company's history of delays, who knows if that imprecise BlackBerry 10 release data will actually hold? We know that Nokia has an active pipeline that not only Microsoft, but AT&T ( T) already supports.

Nokia will sell smartphones at Christmastime. How many? That's the burning question. If it looks like Windows 8 can emerge as a solid number three (or even not-so-solid number two) smartphone OS, it will lift NOK. If it appears that Nokia can reinvigorate its standing among hardware makers, the stock will follow.

Simply put, you cannot judge Nokia's fortunes on the basis of what's happening this second. At RIM, meantime, nothing -- or least nothing that matters to the marketplace -- is happening.

At this juncture, I am accumulating NOK and will take my lumps or gains as long-term visibility comes into view in late 2012-early 2013. If we get the aforementioned dead cat bounce along the way, I will not hesitate to take profits.

Of course, investors should allocate just a small portion of the speculative sub-section to NOK if they're so inclined. You could opt to get long by selling NOK $2 puts.

For instance, the July expiration brings in about 13 cents, as of Friday's close. You keep the 13 cents per put sold no matter what happens and, if you get put shares, you do not start to lose money on the overall trade until NOK breaches $1.87. That's a risk I am willing to take with a small bit of capital.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
At the time of publication, the author was long MSFT and NOK.

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