TORONTO (AP) -- Research In Motion Ltd. climbed Friday after a Jefferies analyst upgraded the BlackBerry maker's stock ahead of the launch of its long-delayed new smartphones.
THE SPARK: Peter Misek, a longtime RIM analyst, lifted RIM to "Buy" from "Hold" and set a $19.50 price target on its shares.
THE BIG PICTURE: RIM was once Canada's most valuable company, with a market value of more than $80 billion in 2008. Shares sank in value for years due to ground lost to Apple Inc.'s iPhone and phones running Google Inc.'s Android system. Today the company has a market value of $7.8 billion.
But hopes for the company's new BlackBerry 10 smartphones, set for release Jan. 30, have propelled the stock in recent months. It has more than doubled from a 9-year low of $6.22, struck in September.
THE ANALYSIS: Misek is slightly more optimistic about RIM's new phone. He said carriers have agreed to volume commitments for the first two quarters after the Jan. 30 launch, and loyal BlackBerry users are "starved" for an upgrade of the phone.
"Since December, our checks indicated better-than-expected carrier and developer support. We now think the chance of success has risen closer to 30 percent," Misek said in a note Friday.
He also expects RIM to open its corporate BlackBerry email services to iPhone and Android devices, which would be a new revenue stream for the company. He said the positive implications of this move aren't appreciated by investors.
SHARE ACTION: Up 90 cents, or 6 percent, to $15.81 in morning trading on the Nasdaq.