RIM Shares Down After BB10 Late Launch Announced

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of Research In Motion Ltd., the maker of the BlackBerry phones, fell Tuesday after an analyst said the company's new operating system will launch later he had expected.

THE SPARK: RIM has said that BlackBerry 10, the new operating system, will launch in the first three months of 2013. In a research note Tuesday, Peter Misek at Jefferies & Co. said while he was hoping for a January launch, March now looks more likely. That means the launch will come after RIM's fiscal quarter ends in February.

THE BIG PICTURE: BlackBerry 10 is aimed at bringing the phones up to par with the iPhone and Android phones in terms of multi-tasking and entertainment. It's intended for new phones, not as an upgrade for older ones.

THE ANALYSIS: Selling BlackBerry 10 later means RIM is stuck with its outdated portfolio for additional months. Distributors and retailers are being cautious about holding BlackBerrys in inventory, Misek said, pointing to poor sales in the current quarter, which ends in November.

There has been speculation that another phone maker might buy RIM, mainly for the sake of its patents, but Misek said he believes no sale is imminent, and any deal to license RIM's software will wait until BlackBerry 10 is out.

He kept an "Underperform" rating and a $5 price target on the shares.

SHARE ACTION: Shares of the Waterloo, Ont., company fell 42 cents, or 5.1 percent, to $7.82 in afternoon trading. The shares hit a nine-year low of $6.22 in late September, but rallied after the earnings report for the latest quarter came in better than Wall Street analysts had expected.