NEW YORK (
Research In Motion
is all set to throw doomsayers another curve.
The BlackBerry maker will release earnings after the bell Thursday, and in the past two outings, RIM has blown past Wall Street's pessimistic targets. But betting on a third earnings beat could be pushing it a little bit.
It's hard to see the positives with RIM when you've watched how badly it has fallen behind rivals like
and the assortment of
Android phone makers that have led the market. But as RIM has shown, its woeful decline in the U.S. smartphone arena has been offset by the rise of sales abroad.
Analysts are looking for RIM to post adjusted earnings of $1.76 a share on $5.64 billion in sales, according to Yahoo Finance. Looking ahead to the May quarter, the consensus calls for a sequential decline in pro forma profit to $1.65 a share on sequentially flat sales of $5.6 billion.
>>See Anton Wahlman's analysis:
So what is RIM's secret weapon? Nothing other than the familiar and tenacious Curve phone -- the little BlackBerry engine that keeps sales humming.
"The momentum of the old Curve in Latin America and Asia seems formidable," said MKM Partners' analyst Tero Kuittinen. "There isn't another handset vendor that's as effective at selling three-year-old phones as RIM is with the Curve at the moment."
Selling old phones comes in handy when you don't have any dazzling new phones on hand, certainly. As far as new products, RIM said Tuesday that it will start selling its long-awaited PlayBook tablet on April 19 for $500, which will go up against Apple's iPad.
But the biggest concern among investors remains the question of how RIM can stop the erosion of its smartphone market share. So far, RIM has offered no clues as to when or what is coming in its next generation of phones.
RIM is due for some new touchscreen phones running on its QNX software that may even include an Android compatibility to allow work phones to play a wider selection of applications.
Until then, however, RIM could get by on inherited business as European rival
takes a timeout to regroup around
Windows Phone 7 software.
Gleacher & Company analyst Stephen Patel likes RIM chances here.
RIM is the "biggest beneficiary of Nokia's share loss due to its platform ownership and ability to generate healthy margins on low-cost phones," Patel wrote in a research note Friday.
Sounds like RIM's slouching business still stands tall when compared with the collapse of industry giants like Nokia.
--Written by Scott Moritz in New York.>To contact this writer, click here: Scott Moritz, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.To follow Scott on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/MoritzDispatch.>To send a tip, email: email@example.com.
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