RIM Blows Away Expectations: So Can Anyone Catch Them?

These are blow-out numbers for RIM's third quarter no matter how you slice and dice them. And you thought Oracle'sgood news yesterday was something. This is something else entirely.

Research in Motion posts 65 cents a share in earnings per share; a full 3 cents better than analysts had projected, and 2 cents better than Pablo Perez-Fernandez at Global Crown Capital thought, who is one of the most optimistic RIM bulls on the Street.

That performance on $1.67 billion in revenue, essentially right in line with the $1.65 billion analysts were expecting. In other words, RIM clearly has its costs under control and were able to boost the bottom-line even though the top line came in as expected.

Dig a little deeper into the numbers and the RIM story gets even better. The company beat handset estimates by 100,000 units; 3.9 million instead of the 3.8 million the Street anticipated. New subscriptions are a little lighter than expectations; 1.65 million instead of the 1.8 million analysts were looking for.

But here's the biggest headline: Fourth Quarter guidance beat even the rosiest expectations and that's the key. There had already been a healthy amount of euphoria around guidance for this company; so much so that Perez-Fernandez warned investors in a note this morning not to be put off by lighter-than-expected numbers.

He brought up a great point that no new products from RIM were coming in the fourth quarter, though analysts expected a sizeable increase in both EPS and revenue. Instead, RIM blows past fourth quarter expectations, now projecting a new EPS range of 66-70 cents a share. The Street was at 65 cents. The new revenue range is now $1.8 billion to $1.87 billion when the Street was closer to $1.76 billion.

Perez-Fernandez is right on several accounts, most notably advising investors that RIM's target could hit $180 a share. Only problem is, he advised investors to wait for the company's earnings and buy on the dip, assuming it would miss on its guidance numbers.

Instead, RIM shares are rocketing back toward their early November highs. And for those who have RIM at the top of their picks lists for 2008, including Perez-Fernandez, it looks like that's still a very good call indeed.

All that speculation about heated competition in the wireless world from the likes of Palm and Motorola , even Nokia and Samsung seems so last month, last quarter. RIM is the juggernaut in the sector. Let's see what Apple and its iPhone are able to do to this company, which seems to be doing for smart phones what Apple has done for digital music players.

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