Updated from 2:07 p.m. EST
SAN FRANCISCO -- If I had bought you a Christmas present, would you rather it was a share of
Research In Motion
or a share of
That would be a no-brainer, right? After all, Apple still had CEO Steve Jobs on the job despite the growing uncertainty over his health, and its iPhone 3G has been
gadget of the past year. Economic doldrums aside, the company and its stock still offered a compelling reason to stick with it.
Research In Motion, on the other hand, seemed to be continually stubbing its toe in an attempt to thwart the iPhone's march to take over the planet. Its response to the iPhone, the BlackBerry Storm, released on Nov. 21 -- interestingly, the 52-week low of the stock market -- was treated to a host of negative reviews and early supply constraints due to glitches in the device.
So, have you looked at the stock prices lately?
Shares of RIM have climbed 37% since Christmas; Apple's stock is up 11%.
OK, that's not an entirely fair comparison. Longtime investors in RIM are certainly not happy to have experienced the crumbling of the stock, which in December had fallen nearly 80% from its high set six months earlier.
experienced a 60% plunge from its 52-week high.
But the resuscitation of RIM's shares also is no accident, and it looks like the company's will continue to profit from offering an alternative for consumers who are jealous of iPhone users but prefer the
RIM shares moved 5.1% higher to $56.63 on Wednesday, sparked by raised estimates and a higher stock-price target from Goldman Sachs analyst Simona Janikowski, who sees higher business-customer demand coming via a replacement cycle for a surge of devices sold two years ago, as well as "solid traction" of the BlackBerry Storm.
Silicon Alley Insider
writer Dan Frommer did an
Monday describing why the Storm's first-month sales of 500,000 devices (reportedly) was not only not a disaster, but also wasn't significantly below iPhone implied monthly sales of 583,000 devices during its last quarter.
On Tuesday, a Verizon spokeswoman said the company had sold 1 million Storms since the device's launch, and RIM says it is building 250,000 of them a week to meet demand.
As analysts at AmTech recently reiterated, the investment cases for RIM and Apple are not mutually exclusive, but one is increasingly forced to consider how successful RIM can be in leveraging its business-customer supremacy in smartphones to entice consumers, compared to how well consumer-king Apple will be able to make inroads into businesses.
Evidence from Apple's earnings announcement last week suggests that the company is already experiencing cannibalization of the iPhone by its own iPod touch. Add to that the burden of a global slowdown in demand for personal computers (still Apple's biggest business, let's remember), and the case for further outperformance by Research In Motion shares from here looks even stronger.