As Apple courts business customers for its iPhone, what's the best smartphone play now?
Tavis McCourt of Morgan Keegan and Jim Suva of Citigroup weighed in with their top handset stocks.
McCourt sees the field opening up to several players -- undercutting Apple. "Carriers have been subsidizing these smartphones substantially," he said. "Now, there's not that much of a difference between paying up front for a smartphone, sometimes amounting to $99, [versus] a basic handset. Why wouldn't a consumer upgrade?"
And whose handhelds will they upgrade to?
"One with the most upside, as a pure play, is Palm," says McCourt. He concedes that the Treo maker is a risky play -- "but you could end up with a return similar to Research in Motion."
He advises investors that RIM, which makes the BlackBerry, is the "safer bet."
Suva also likes RIM for "delivering products today and tomorrow," and says the firm will meet holiday sales projections. But, he cautions, "we have a sell rating on Palm. It's not going to deliver for Christmas."
Suva sticks with his mid-August take on Motorola , which he sees poised for steady growth.
Citigroup Global Markets owns a significant amount of shares in Palm; and may have furnished investment banking services to Palm. Motorola is an investment banking client of Citigroup; and Citigroup or its affiliates has acted as manager/co-manager of an offering of Motorola securities.