Needham & Co upgrade RIM to ‘Hold’

Needham Co. analyst Charlie Wolf this morning upgraded Research in Motion from an underperform to a hold rating because the company’s current share price fully reflects any slowdown in the growth of BlackBerry’s sales, the analyst explained.

Wolf downgraded RIM to underperform on July 16 to take into account potential impact of the iPhone on BlackBerry sales in the consumer market.

“Recent data suggest that iPhone sales are in fact materially higher than initial forecasts,” Wolf writes. “However, we now believe that RIM’s share price more than compensates for any slowdown in the growth of BlackBerry sales in the consumer market that might occur in the November quarter.”

Wolf points out that RIM has recently introduced new consumer-oriented BlackBerries, which could stimulate sales, adding, “The new BlackBerry Storm, an iPhone look alike, has received very positive initial reviews. Consequently, we’re upgrading RIM from an underperform to a hold rating.”

Wolf has reduced his target price on the stock to $77, but warns the economic crisis may impact smartphone sales more than expected.

The analyst also points to looming competition from Google’s Android platform.

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