Time to Hang Up on RIM?

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Just two months ago, Research In Motion (RIMM) was trading ever so close to its net current asset value, which can be either hallowed ground for deep value investors or a place companies end up just before they begin the spiral toward going under.

In RIMM's case, this was a momentary phenomenon for a company that has had its share of troubles in recent years.

By my calculation, the company never actually traded below net current asset value, and investors reacted swiftly, rescuing it from net/net land by scooping up shares that appeared to be priced for an early demise.

Since that column was published, shares are up more than 60% through Wednesday's close. RIMM Chart RIMM data by YCharts

Certainly, all is not well with RIMM. Given increased competition, declining revenues and margins and some public relations fiascos related to user outages, the company has faced increasing headwinds.

At one time, the BlackBerry was a phenomenon, but now seems to be yesterday's news. The company is pinning its hopes on reviving the business, however, with the release of the BlackBerry 10, which it hopes will compete with Apple's ( AAPL) iPhone and other smartphones.

There are some in the analyst and investment community who believe BlackBerry 10 will be the shot in the arm the company needs. That optimism was was driving shares higher Friday in pre-market trading.

Thursday, shares rose more than 17% on the Toronto Stock Exchange after a National Bank analyst increased the price target from $12 to $15.

From a fundamental perspective, not much has changed since my last column on RIMM: The company is still extremely liquid, ending last quarter with $2.065 billion, or $3.93 per share, in cash and short-term investments, and no debt. As of Wednesday's closing price, shares were still trading at a relatively low multiple of net current assets, $1.65, and at just 0.87 times tangible book value per share. The reception of BlackBerry 10 will help determine whether this company is truly cheap, or in decline.

Frankly, on the surface, RIMM shares still look cheap to me. However, there's another side to this story, and one that I need to consider in this equation. As I mentioned in my last column on RIMM, I am a BlackBerry user, on the business and personal side. I am also due for an upgrade, and probably will not wait for the BlackBerry 10.

I am also not inclined to "upgrade" to one of the current models, despite the fact that it would still be an improvement on my current device. I may be on the version of making the switch to an Android device, or perhaps the iPhone.

If I, the non-technically savvy deep-value investor, am contemplating making the switch, how many others out there have done or will do the same? Perhaps the BlackBerry 10 will be the saving grace for Research In Motion, but I, for one, can't wait until January.

Looks like I'll be converting, right or wrong. Time for a change.

At the time of publication the author had no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Jonathan Heller, CFA, is president of KEJ Financial Advisors, his fee-only financial planning company. Jon spent 17 years at Bloomberg Financial Markets in various roles, from 1989 until 2005. He ran Bloomberg's Equity Fundamental Research Department from 1994 until 1998, when he assumed responsibility for Bloomberg's Equity Data Research Department. In 2001, he joined Bloomberg's Publishing group as senior markets editor and writer for Bloomberg Personal Finance Magazine, and an associate editor and contributor for Bloomberg Markets Magazine. In 2005, he joined SEI Investments as director of investment communications within SEI's Investment Management Unit.

Jon is also the founder of the Cheap Stocks Web site, a site dedicated to deep-value investing. He has an undergraduate degree from Grove City College and an MBA from Rider University, where he has also served on the adjunct faculty; he is also a CFA charter holder.

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