RIM Takeover Beckons Microsoft With Cheapest Multiple: Real M&A
Comment of the Day

June 21 2011

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

RIM Takeover Beckons Microsoft With Cheapest Multiple: Real M&A

This article by Hugo Miller and Danielle Kucera for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:
Research In Motion Ltd. has lost so much value that an acquirer could pay a 50 percent premium and still buy the BlackBerry maker for a lower multiple than any company in the industry.

RIM, once worth $83 billion, has fallen more than 80 percent from its record three years ago as Apple Inc.'s iPhone and Google Inc.'s Android platform siphoned off smartphone customers. The Waterloo, Ontario-based company, which plunged last week after saying quarterly sales may drop for the first time in nine years, closed yesterday at $25.89 a share, or 4.7 times earnings next year. That's less than any communications- equipment provider, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

While Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, RIM's co-chief executive officers, said last week that their commitment to RIM is "stronger than ever," the company may now attract Microsoft Corp. and Dell Inc., BMO Harris Private Banking said. A buyer would get a smartphone maker that is still dominant among corporate clients, offers greater security with its own e-mail servers and generates more free cash versus its market value than any of its rivals. Paying $40 a share still values RIM at a discount to comparable companies in the industry.

"Given how significant the deterioration of the stock price has been, that alone will cause interest," said Paul Taylor, who oversees $14.5 billion, including RIM shares, as chief investment officer at BMO Harris in Toronto. "RIM still has meaningful market share in the U.S. and meaningful market share internationally, and RIM has an iconic brand."

Eoin Treacy's view The mobile handset market is ruthlessly competitive. Over the last decade the industry has seen some major players such as Siemens drop out while others such as Apple and more recently HTC have been notable entries.

Both Nokia and Research and Motion have lost market share and their respective share prices have suffered. Such has been the extent of their price declines that some form of restructuring is becoming increasingly likely and this may involve a merger or acquisition for one or both of these companies.

A strategy pursued by Ericsson and Motorola has been to focus more on networks rather than handsets. Ericsson broke upwards from a more than two-year base in April but has since pulled back somewhat to test underlying trading. The medium-term upside can probably be given the benefit of the doubt provided it holds above $80. Motorola Solutions has been trending higher in a relatively consistently manner since early 2010 and a break of the progression of rising lows, currently near $42, would be required to check current scope for additional upside. Motorola's handset arm, Motorola Mobility Holdings, has been ranging below $26 since March and needs to sustain a move above that level to indicate a return to significant bullish interest.

Apple pulled back below the 200-day MA for the first time since March 2009 last week but rallied back above it today. The medium-term uptrend can continue to be given the benefit of the doubt provided Apple does not sustain a move below this week's low.

HTC accelerated to a peak near TW$1300 by late April. It pulled back, broke its progression of higher major reaction lows last week and found at least short-term support in the region of the 200-day MA near TW$1000. The April high represents at least a medium-term peak and the share needs to hold in the current area if the overall uptrend is to continue to be given the benefit of the doubt. (Also see Comment of the Day on November 23rd 2010).

ZTE Corp has paused below HK$30 since early 2010 but has held a progression of higher reaction lows for the last year. A sustained move below $25 would be required to break this sequence and offset current scope for continued higher to lateral ranging.

Samsung Electronics encountered resistance near KRW1,000,000 in February and has pulled back to KRW800,000. While somewhat oversold in the short-term, a sustained move above KRW900,000 would be required to break the progression of lower rally highs and signal a return to medium-term demand dominance. LG Electronics has underperformed Samsung and deteriorated sharply over the last five consecutive weeks. It is also becoming oversold in the short term but a clear upward dynamic would be required to indicate short covering is getting underway.

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