Research In Motion, struggling to halt the slide in its smartphone market share and stock price, saw a glimmer of hope earlier this month when rumors began circulating that Samsung was considering buying the BlackBerry maker.
However, Samsung officials have put a spike in those rumors, telling various media outlets that not only are they not interested, but that there has been zero contact between the companies.
“Media reports of Samsung Electronics’ buyout of Research In Motion are not true. Samsung is not considering the acquisition of RIM,” Samsung Canada reportedly told the Financial Post in an email.
RIM policy is not to comment on rumors.
Samsung’s statements had a direct hit on RIM’s stock prices-which had been up on the initial rumors-sending the price down 5 percent in premarket trading Jan. 18.
However, some analysts are still positive on RIM. Investment banking group Jefferies, in a Jan. 17 note to investors, raised its target to $17, explaining that while it suspects the rumors aren’t true, it sees RIM as “exploring many options” and believes a licensing of the BlackBerry 10 OS is the most likely outcome.
The firm also made a handful of additional, interesting assertions, such as that:
RIM will license BlackBerry 10 and charge $10 per device.
Equity analyst Peter Misek wrote that this would enable RIM to maintain its service revenues, build ecosystem momentum and be a boon to Samsung and HTC, which would gain access to RIM’s subscriber base, be able to loosen their dependence on Google’s Android and gain a better foothold in the enterprise market.
The open-standards-based BlackBerry 10, wrote Misek, “is effectively an Android derivative and therefore many bridges are possible.”
RIM will appoint a new chairman of the board.
RIM co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, to the displeasure of some investors, currently also share the chairman role. The most likely candidate to take over the position, writes Misek, is Barbara Stymiest, a current member of the board and a senior executive at the Royal Bank of Canada.
Were licensing to occur, a major company restructuring would be required.
Licensing would “devastate” the hardware business and require RIM to slim down. Jefferies hypothesizes that licensing has about a 90 percent probability, while an outright sale of the company or its hardware is more in the neighborhood of 40 percent.
Restructuring could lead to long-term success.
Were RIM to restructure, maintain a quarterly hardware run rate of 8 million to 10 million units and successfully license off BlackBerry 10, Jefferies “could see” RIM stock going up to $25-where it was this summer when Amazon, Microsoft and Nokia reportedly kicked the tires, considering a purchase, according to the Financial Post report, which noted that RIM rebuffed such entreaties.
The Post adds that RIM stocks were also helped during the Jan. 9 week by rumors that RIM had hired investment bank Goldman Sachs to explore the company’s options, which could include the sale of all or parts of the company.
The surety-stubbornness?-that RIM’s head executives have shown, however, makes the former difficult to imagine. Quarter after quarter has seen them pointing to the final few puzzle pieces that need to click into place to turn things around. Most recently, these have included the upcoming BlackBerry 10 release, redesigned PlayBook tablets and Mobile Fusion, a more inclusive way for enterprises to manage a variety of mobile platforms.
“What is clear to us is the value of [RIM’s subscriber base] and the world’s largest private cloud combined with some patent value continues to provide support,” wrote Jefferies’ Misek. “However, near-term trends continue to be challenging so we maintain our Hold.”