Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) sold one million units of BB10 recently. Morgan Stanley believes that the mystery buyer is Verizon. Shaw Wu, analyst at Sterne Agee is out with a new note on the sale. Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB)’s future has been hotly debated between the bulls and the bears, Wu falls somewhere in the middle.
Wu notes that the 1 mm BB10 unit sale impressive, it is consistent with recent supplier checks indicating BBRY likely shipped 1-1.5 mm units. The order size would suggest a service provider or distributor customer and expectations that it is a U.S. carrier make sense. But from his analysis, Wu believes that Indonesia, arguably Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB)’s strongest country, may make more sense. Nonetheless, he remains concerned with Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB)’s road to profitability given lower service fees and rising BOM costs. Further details below:
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1. 1 mm BB10 Order. Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) announced a one million order for its new BlackBerrys from an “established partner.” While the magnitude may be surprising to some who had low expectations, it is consistent with Sterne Agee supplier checks indicating build plans of 1-1.5 million units. With consensus estimates of around 7 million BlackBerry smartphone units in the February quarter, they continue to believe units appear reasonable with potential for modest upside.
2. Likely Carrier or Distributor Customer and Could Be Indonesia vs. U.S. While expectations are that the order is from Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) or AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) with the Z10 in final testing, Sterne Agee’s analysis indicates that Indonesia, arguably BBRY’s strongest country where it commands 37% marketshare, is a higher possibility. Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB)’s market share in the U.S. has dipped to 2%-3% and an order size of 1 million would suggest VZ or AT&T would expect 10%-12% of shipments to be BB10. To Wu, this seems a bit aggressive.
3. Concerns Remain. While near-term BB10 momentum looks good, Wu is concerned with sustainability. Wu’s feedback indicates buyers are long-time loyalists as opposed to new customers. It remains to be seen if BB10 can gain mainstream acceptance that BB once commanded that is now owned by Android and iOS. In addition, he is concerned with the company’s road to profitability given rising BOM (build-of-materials) costs with the use of more premium parts including touchscreens, glass, and metals and as its higher-margin service revenue (36% of revenue) will likely get impacted as BB10 ramps as a larger contributor. The reason is lower service fees vs. previous generations.
4. Maintain Neutral. Wu maintains a neutral rating as he continues to be concerned with Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB)’s fundamentals where competitive pressures from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) are unlikely to subside and the company faces a major product transition with BB10.