Technology Science - RIM shares hammered over revised outlook

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Investors punished Research In Motion Friday, knocking its shares down more than 14 per cent, one day after the Canadian technology company lowered its first-quarter outlook.

The surprise revision also prompted analysts to downgrade their outlook of the company.

The shares of the Waterloo, Ont.-based company, known for its BlackBerry handheld device, closed down $7.74, or 14.4 per cent, at $46.09 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

The sell-off comes one day after the company said that it shipped fewer BlackBerry smartphones than it expected.

As a result, the company now expects earnings per share for the quarter ending May 28 to be in the range of between $1.30 US and $1.37, down from its March 24 outlook of between $1.47 and $1.55.

The firm said the number of BlackBerrys shipped is now expected to be at the lower end of the range of 13.5 million to 14.5 million it forecast in March.

RIM also said it was seeing "a shift in the expected mix of devices shipped toward handsets with lower average selling prices."

The company also said revenue would be slightly below the range of $5.2 billion to $5.6 billion it predicted in March.

"Shipments of BlackBerry PlayBook in the quarter continue to be in line with our previous expectations," the company said in a release, "and we have not experienced any significant supply disruptions in [the quarter] due to the impact of the Japan earthquake."

RIM said it still expects to achieve full year earnings per share of about $7.50.

The revised outlook came one week after rival Apple Inc. reported a record quarter, with a stunning 18.65 million iPhones shipped.

The latest misstep prompted analysts to re-think coverage of the company which until recently was the darling of the technology sector.

National Bank Financial analyst Kris Thompson said he's "throwing in the towel for now" and can't recommend the stock due to RIM's "poor execution" on new devices.

"Consumers are not listening nor waiting," Thompson wrote in a research note. "RIM does not seem to be up to the challenge. Consumers are voting with their dollars, and they're being spent in Apple stores and on Google's Android platform."

Thompson downgraded his expectations for RIM's stock price to around $55.

And RBC Capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky, who had previously pegged RIM as an outperforming stock with a target price of $90, lowered his valuation to $50.

"We were wrong, as misexecution has undermined sentiment recovery," he said.

(With filres from Canadian Press)

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