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The Caveats to Playing Research in Motion


Beware of issues it's facing, and choose the right strategy.

I was asked if I'd play Research In Motion (RIMM) with shares down so much after earnings.

First, let me say that I can't give advice but personally it does look like an opportunity. However, I'd only buy a partial position or use a buy write (covered call) strategy initially as I think the stock can now trade closer to the $68-71 range -- especially if the market has the correction that I've called for. I also think Research in Motion can trade back to the $90-100 level sometime in the next two quarters.

I think the after-hours pricing needs a little perspective. First, Research in Motion is growing revenues at nearly a 37% clip over prior year in what most pundits think is the second worst recession of all time. Even if you don't think this is the second worst recession of all time (which I don't), these are still very strong results, given the overall economic backdrop. Also, earnings and margins are still strong.

I'll have to dig into the conference call info, but my guess is that the weak guidance is being primarily impacted by the timing of its new product releases later into the next quarter. Thus, next quarter's weakness could be the following quarter's strength.

I've highlighted the long-term risk to Research in Motion, which is chiefly Apple's (AAPL) iPhone (and now PALM's (PALM) Pre), combined with Google's (GOOG) Android platform, which will bring many cheaper smartphones for Research in Motion to contend with.

However, the above referenced points will take a number of years to play out and in the meantime (the next four to six quarters) Research in Motion should continue to exhibit very strong performance. And as I've also highlighted, the market for smartphones is going to dwarf the traditional cell phone market and is big enough to support multiple products/players.

I think the relevant near-term issues facing Research in Motion are twofold. First, the stock just got a bit rich and expectations are very high. So now, it's is a "show me" story, and these can take a few weeks to work out. Second, I've never loved the Storm and think it has material deficiencies versus the iPhone. These shortcomings can be worked out and are in the offing.

So my plan is to take partial/hedged positions in Research in Motion and then get more aggressive closer to and below $70.

I'll also add that any material weakness in Apple or Google (say 5-7% or greater) on these Research in Motion numbers will have me adding long side exposure back to these names.
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Position in RIMM,aapl,goog

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