Shares of Research In Motion Ltd., the maker of BlackBerry phones, climbed Tuesday after an analyst upgrade.
THE SPARK: Pierre Ferragu at Bernstein Research upgraded shares of RIM to "Market-Perform" from "Underperform." In a morning note, he wrote that his view that the company is in terminal decline is unchanged. But like some other analysts, he's come around to the view that pessimism has been priced into the stock, and that there's some value in the company all the same. He put a $16 price target on the shares.
Also Tuesday, RIM provided some details on a new software package that corporations will be able to use to manage not just BlackBerry phones, but iPhones and phones running Google Inc.'s Android software. The software will allow managers to wipe data from lost phones, for instance.
RIM had announced its plan to introduce such software in May. On Tuesday, it said the software will be available in late March, and that it will be able to manage RIM's PlayBook tablets as well.
The move reflects the increasing penetration of iPhones and other smartphones into corporations. Other companies already sell remote-management software for non-BlackBerry phones.
THE ANALYSIS: Ferragu points to the service fees RIM gains from phone companies for running the BlackBerry email system, saying a buyer who pays a 50 percent premium for the company would make back 62 percent of its investment over three years through service fees alone.
An acquirer could also be interested in marketing to RIM's user base of about 70 million people, Ferragu wrote, or get its hands on RIM's patent portfolio.
Ferragu mentions Microsoft Corp. and rival smartphone maker HTC Corp. as possible acquirers, but notes a deal remains unlikely.
An email was sent seeking comment from Research in Motion, but there was no immediate reply.
SHARE ACTION: RIM shares rose $1.36, or 8.3 percent, to $17.84 in midday trading Tuesday.