BlackBerry Ltd (BBRY) stock rallied on Thursday after a bullish analyst note, climbing 7.76% on the NASDAQ to close at $11.39. Citron Research, which is usually known for its bearish calls and push to short big-name stocks, has some strong recommendations for BlackBerry Ltd (BBRY). But while Citron praises the company’s technology, it sounds like Toyota, the world’s biggest automaker, plans to no longer use its QNX automotive operating system.
Citron lauds BlackBerry’s (BBRY) “game changer tech”
Andrew Left of Citron Research said in a note that BlackBerry Ltd (BBRY) stock could hit $20 over the next two years, sending the shares to their highest level in over two years. He feels that the company is a potential acquisition target and should enjoy a high premium.
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He believes that BlackBerry Ltd (BBRY)’s QNX automotive infotainment system may be a “game changer” in the area of autonomous driving. In an interview with Bloomberg TV, Left compared the company to NVIDIA, saying that investors were “giving them credit for news businesses they’re entering.” He added that if BlackBerry Ltd (BBRY) begins focusing on QNX or the Internet of Things business, “they can get higher multiples and the stock will move faster than the actual numbers would move.”
Left said that QNX is installed in 60 million vehicles around the globe, which is four times as many vehicles that had Mobileye units installed in them when Intel made a $15 billion offer. He explained that this makes BlackBerry Ltd (BBRY) an attractive acquisition target for any tech firm that doesn’t have an autonomous driving offering, such as Microsoft. Of note, Left once strongly advocated for shorting Mobileye, calling it overvalued.
Toyota appears to be dumping QNX
Citron’s recommendation of BlackBerry Ltd (BBRY) based on QNX and the 60 million vehicles that are using it comes the same day as the news that Toyota, the biggest automaker in the world, seems to be dropping it. If this is true, it would be a massive blow for the Canadian firm, which desperately needs to have a huge win in a major new market such as autonomous driving and infotainment systems.
Toyota announced recently that its new cars will have infotainment systems that run on AGL, or Automotive Grade Linux. Toyota is planning to debut the new Linux-based platform in the 2018 Camry and said it will be available across all its vehicles starting late this summer. Most Toyota and Lexus vehicles in North America will have the Linux-based system in place of QNX in the coming months.
AGL is an open source project from The Linux Foundation, so using it will enable Toyota to churn out cars faster. The Japanese automaker said it has been contributing to the open source project “for several years.”
Seeking Alpha contributor Paulo Santos states that BlackBerry Ltd (BBRY) “must have known about this development, yet somehow forgot to mention it.” He expects many more automakers to follow Toyota’s lead on this because the open source system will enable them to work faster. If he’s correct, this is terrible news for BlackBerry Ltd (BBRY) and QNX.
But let’s not forget that Ford just announced recently that it was deploying QNX in all of its vehicles, so the game isn’t over for the Canadian firm yet.
Is Citron right about BlackBerry?
Seeking Alpha contributor Bill Maurer recalls another time when Citron issued a bullish note on BlackBerry Ltd (BBRY), which was three years ago this month. In fact, he claims the note Citron issued in 2014 is almost identical to the note it issued today about BlackBerry Ltd (BBRY), including the prediction that its stock will rally to $20. However, the shares have even fallen as low as $6 since that prediction.
Interestingly, one thing BlackBerry Ltd (BBRY) does seem to have going for it is the one thing everyone seems to have written off. TCL North America President Steve Cistulli tweeted that the launch of the KEYone is already a tremendous success. In fact, he said their initial supply is selling out.
2/ Demand has been extremely high & it’s encouraging to see this level of excitement and momentum around our BlackBerry smartphone launch
— Steve Cistulli (@SteveCistulli) May 31, 2017