Analyst: BlackBerry Maker RIM's Future In Phones Is Cloudy

NEW YORK (AP) — Saying he no longer expects Research In Motion Ltd. to recover to participate in the "mainstream smartphone industry growth," Wunderlich Securities analyst Matthew S. Robison downgraded the BlackBerry maker on Tuesday to "Hold" from "Buy."

The analyst also lowered his target price sharply, to $46 from $76. Over the long term, Robison expects RIM to have a role supplying business-oriented devices, as well as "cloud-based" services through the BlackBerry network. But he expects the non-business consumer mix that the company gained over the past two years to "churn off," that is, leave. Earnings, Robison added "will decline after 2013 and eventually grow again on demand that is largely associated with business users."

As for the PlayBook tablet computer, the analyst said that on the up side, it is selling well relative to tablets other than Apple's iPad.

"However, shipment rates have waned since initial volume from those that had been waiting for it," he wrote in a note to investors. "There is little indication that the PlayBook has registered with consumers outside the loyal BlackBerry installed base."

Shares of Canada-based RIM slid 61 cents to $41.91 in midday trading. Over the last year shares have traded between $42.53 and $70.54.