Most Likely Buyers for RIM? Here Are Two
Struggling Research In Motion has pinned its hopes on the upcoming launch of the BlackBerry 10, and if it proves successful, one analyst sees a greater chance that the company will be bought.
Since upgrading RIM to a "hold" from an "underperform" rating, Peter Misek, a managing director of technology research at Jefferies, has also raised his priced target to $13 on the struggling company's shares.
"Well, when we first had our "underperform" rating, the chances of success or support we thought for BB 10 was virtually nil," Misek said.
After surveying carriers around the globe in early November, however, his opinion changed.
"And it was stunning — we came back with 40 or 50 carriers saying they were actively going to push this device," Misek said. "They were going to support it. They were going to provide co-marketing dollars and really key in-store placement."
Misek isn't the only investor getting more positive into the launch. Although RIM shares have cratered since early 2011, the stock has more than doubled in recent weeks since its September lows as it prepares to launch the BlackBerry 10.
By April or May, Misek said investors will know whether the launch of the new smartphone proves successful. In his opinion, selling 3 to 5 million units "out of the gate" in the first quarter and more than 5 million units after that would be a "very good" launch.
"If successful, we think an acquisition possibility goes up," he said. "If it's not successful, we probably see the company become something much, much smaller a year from now."
Microsoft and Samsung are the two most likely candidates to take over the Canadian company, Misek said. If BlackBerry's launch is successful, a takeover price would be around $20 to $30 for RIM, he added. If not, his forecast dropped to the $5 to $10 range.
Misek think Samsung may want to buy RIM because they are "trapped in the Google ecosystem" and at some point "fear that Google will compete directly with them."
"We actually think that BB 10 is a solid operating system," he said. "What's neat about it is it actually can actually emulate Android apps," he said.
At the launch, the BlackBerry platform will have about 100,000 apps with an additional 200,000 to 300,000 Android apps that will be available on the Android player, he added.
"It actually does provide some advantages that current Android OSs do not," he said.
—By CNBC.com's Katie Little; Follow her on Twitter @katie_little
Disclosure: Peter Misek does not own shares of RIM. Jefferies is a market maker in the securities or ADRs of RIM.