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Berstein on RIM: Cover Your Shorts Today

“Bernstein’s Pierre Ferragu, the Axe in Research in Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) is backing off from his uber bearish thesis this morning.

– Ferragu is upgrading RIMM to Market Perform from Underperform (tgt unch. $40) telling his clients to cover their shorts today.

RIM’s stock has lost 39% since its high of February and is now clearly implying a medium term evolution of the company far worse than management guidance or even sell-side consensus implies. With EPS 10% below consensus for this year and 21% for next year, they believe they currently model the bleakest possible outlook for the company and show in this piece of research that a significantly worse scenario is very unlikely to materialise in the next 2 years. As a consequence, Bernstein recommends covering short positions in RIM today.

They also recognise the stock is particularly cheap on any metric, were the company to stabilise its current position and make the right strategic moves to stay in the smartphone race. But they believe management remains in denial of challenges facing the company and therefore do not recommend buying the stock yet, or at least not beyond a short term play on a likely rebound.

They recommend covering short positions in RIM.

RIM’s stock has lost 39% since its high of February, while sell-side earnings expectations only marginally adjusted and management maintained full year guidance. The stock is now trading at 4.7x management guidance and 5.5x sell side consensus for FY12 EPS (ex-net cash). In other words, investors give no credit to these numbers.

Even on their numbers, RIM appears cheap on all metrics. The firm forecasts EPS 10% below consensus (22% below guidance) for this year, 21% for next year. On these numbers RIM recently traded at 5.6x 2012 ex-cash Earnings and 0.9x 2012 sales, at the bottom end of the tech universe.”

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