WATERLOO, Ont. (
Research In Motion
is all grown up now.
At least that's what investors are expecting to discover when the BlackBerry maker reports earnings after the bell Thursday.
A year ago, RIM took a big step outside its business customer niche and stumbled into the consumer market. The move crushed RIM's tender margins and sent investors packing as the promise of growth turned into nothing but growing pains.
But people kept trading in cell phones for smartphones, and the
on RIM, and on its peers
After a rough debut of the BlackBerry Storm in November, RIM's been on a roll. Analysts estimate that nearly one million new Tour phones have sold in the first two months that it has been available. Not bad considering the much-hyped Palm Pre has not passed that milepost since its June introduction.
Largely due to the success of BlackBerry Bold, Tour and Curve smartphones, RIM is expected to have solid if not strong fiscal second-quarter numbers.
Analysts expect RIM to post earnings of a buck on $3.62 billion in sales, according to Yahoo! Finance. Other performance measures to look for include total unit shipments of about 8.4 million, an average selling price of $345 per phone, 4 million net new BlackBerry service subscribers and gross margins in a range between 43% and 44%.
Looking ahead, RIM is expected to deliver a refreshed lineup of phones for the holidays. The expected arrivals include the touchscreen Storm 2, a new Bold and a new Curve.
Analysts expect fiscal third quarter earnings of $1.05 on $3.9 billion in revenue. But given the rise of the smartphone and the maturity of RIM, some seasoned RIM watchers say a brighter outlook might be in store.
In the $85 range, RIM shares are up 111% this year, but still well below the $144 high the stock hit in June last year.
Written by Scott Moritz in New York