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RIM Shares Plunge as Sales, Outlook Disappoint

Research in Motionreported a profit that rose over last year and topped expectations, but sales fell short of forecasts and the Blackberry maker's shares plunged in late trading.

For its current third quarter ending Nov. 28, RIM also said it expects revenue of between $3.6 billion and $3.85 billion and a profit of between $1 and $1.08 per share. Before the company issued its outlook, analysts had expected third-quarter earnings of $1.05 a share on revenue of $3.9 billion.

Excluding one-time items, RIM earned $1.03 a share in its fiscal second quarter on sales of $3.53 billion, compared with 86 cents a share on sales of $2.58 billion in the same period last year.

Analysts who follow Research in Motion expected the company to turn in a profit of $1 a share on sales of $3.62 billion, according to a consensus from Thomson Reuters.

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Research in Motion shares plummeted about 10 percent in extended trading Thursday. They closed at $83.13. Get after-hour RIM quotes here.

Since July the stock has risen more than 18 percent as investors anticipated a rebound in business and consumer spending boosting the company's performance. The stock has doubled since the end of last year.

"The numbers were pretty OK. Slight beat on the earnings line, but only a few pennies. Slight miss on the revenue line. I think most of the Street was looking for a beat there so obviously a miss. A miss isn't as good as a make and a make even might not have been good enough," said DSAM Consulting Analyst Duncan Stewart. "The guidance going forward on revenue certainly looks a little bit light, but there is a range there and it seems to be near the lower end."

The Waterloo, Ontario-based company is preparing to expand a smartphone line that already offers far more choices that either of its main rivals, Apple and Palm, analysts say.

Nick Agostino, an analyst with Research Capital, said the guidance and results raise questions about whether other smart phones like Apple's iPhone and Palm's Pre have been cutting into RIM's business.

"It wasn't a blow out quarter," Agostino said. "I think it will add fuel to the competition concerns."

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Before the results, investors worried a sluggish economy in the United States and other big markets would cause companies to delay upgrades of the BlackBerry handsets used by their employees.

There was also concern that retail consumers—a growing segment of RIM's customer base—could opt for cheaper and less feature-rich mobile phones to save money.

Even so, RIM's shares have posted impressive gains this year as the economy began to show signs of stability. The stock has more than doubled since sliding to a year-low of $35.05 on the Nasdaq in March.

The company said that it expects to add between 4 million and 4.3 million new subscribers in the current quarter.

- Reuters and AP contributed to this report.

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