BlackBerry Exits the Abyss

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The day I penned "Let the Bidding begin for BlackBerry" (BBRY), the shares closed at $7.73 a share. I recommended not selling shares because of my belief a price under $8 was attractive relative to the risk. By the time I followed up with "Yes, BlackBerry Is a Buy" shares were trading near $6, and it was obvious not everyone agreed with my thesis.

Just as the entire market was ready to confirm Apple (AAPL) Google (GOOG), Microsoft (MSFT) and Nokia (NOK) sent the Canadian smartphone maker deep within Wall Street's event horizon for good, the impossible happened, John Chen, the new Chief Berry showed investors a way out.

Chen is ditching the losing handset division and concentrate the company's efforts on its strengths, namely secure enterprise software and solutions. On Dec. 20, the day Chen spoke about his vision for the company the stock increased from a previous close of $6.25 to an astonishing $7.22. While the market has no confidence in BlackBerry's ability to produce handsets profitably, Wall Street understands the income potential if the company adopts a singular focus on enterprise services.

Apple and Google aren't ignoring the enterprise segment and have made limited progress through a client concept known as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), however in a recent rarity for BlackBerry, the company wisely enriched the server software by allowing iPhones and Android devices as clients. By including Apple and Google based clients, BlackBerry is better able to maintain its dominant enterprise solutions position.

The company cast aside development and manufacturing of unprofitable handsets, but not handset sales. There's no argument BlackBerry fell into consumer irrelevance in North America, but in other parts of the world including India and Indonesia, BlackBerry is a tremendously popular brand.

Looking ahead, Foxconn is charged with consumer handset production, a company that already supplies Apple, Amazon (AMZN), Nokia, and Microsoft, so we can count on BlackBerry to be in capable hands. In fact, I think a case can be made that BlackBerry may finally have the capacity to ameliorate phones with greater frequency as a result of new expertise delegations.

Investors are quickly figuring out the company is worth much more than my $8 "scrap metal" minimum price per share valuation. The book value is about twice that and on Jan. 17, renowned Chinese based equity short seller Citron Research reached the same conclusion as I have. BlackBerry shares have considerable upside potential relative to risk and shareholders may want to sit and wait before selling. Citron declared BlackBerry is worth a minimum of $15 a share.

News of Citron Research's report immediately sent shares upward and closed near the highs of the day. On Monday, the U.S. equity markets were closed, but in Canada on the Toronto Stock Exchange, the price has once again moving toward double digits and closed near $9.90. While I agree with Citron's bullish assessment, I understand many don't have the stomach for the volatility of highly speculative tech stocks, much less BlackBerry. There are other ways to profit from a rising price that will allow you to sleep at night.

If you agree the shares are worth at least $15, you may wish to consider an option strategy known as a bull debit spread. The January 2015 $10 calls will probably trade for about $2.20 on Tuesday and the $15 calls for about 80 cents considering the increase in Toronto on Monday. The actual amounts may differ, but the net cost should remain about the same. If an investor buys the January 2015 $10 strike price call for $2.20 and sells the $15 strike for a net cost of $1.40 and shares increase to at least $15, the profit is $3.60. It's also the most that can be made with this particular strategy.

That's better than a double, and the stock has about a year to reach the price target. At $11.40, the investment breaks even and if under $10 at expiration the entire investment is lost. Besides a lower capital cost for a given number of shares, the amount of volatility is significantly reduced. For the first few months, the amount gained or lost on any given day is expected to small compared to owning stock.

This strategy is similar to writing a covered call, albeit with lower risk. A $15 strike covered call will limit your upside also, albeit your downside risk is about $9.25 instead of $1.40. The disadvantage of course is that time is not on your side and if the shares do not appreciate the entire investment can be lost.

At the time of publication, Weinstein had no positions in securities mentioned.

Follow @RobertWeinstein

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

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