RIM shares slip as analyst sees BB10 launch in March
TORONTO (Reuters) - Shares of Research In Motion RIMM.O RIM.TO fell 3.5 percent on Tuesday after an analyst warned that the company's make-or-break line of new BlackBerry smartphones is unlikely to hit store shelves until March, weeks later than investors had hoped.
Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM, a pioneer in the smartphone industry, has struggled over the past year or longer. Its aging line-up of BlackBerrys has been unable to compete with Apple Inc's (AAPL.O) iPhone and a slew of devices that run on Google Inc's (GOOG.O) Android software.
RIM is now working toward the launch of a new line of devices that will run on its new BlackBerry 10 operating system. RIM has said the long-awaited line will launch in the first-quarter of 2013.
"We had hoped for a January launch but now see a March launch as more likely," said Jefferies analyst Peter Misek in a note to clients.
Shares of RIM fell 3.5 percent to $7.96 in early trading on the Nasdaq, while its Toronto-listed shares fell 3.4 percent to C$7.77.
"We're on track for a launch in the first-quarter of 2013," reiterated a spokesman for RIM, in response to Misek's comment.
Misek also said he expects the company to face challenging conditions in the current quarter, as RIM's partners are being cautious about holding too many of the older Blackberry models in stock ahead of the launch of the new devices.
The company, earlier this year, also said it was exploring its strategic options.
Some analysts have speculated that this could lead to a sale of RIM or potential licensing deals with handset makers that are interested in using RIM's BB10 operating system on their own devices.
Misek believes though that such plans are far from imminent.
"We believe there is no imminent sale of Research In Motion and any licensing deals are likely well after the launch of BB10 in January," said Misek.
(Reporting by Euan Rocha; editing by Frank McGurty)