Research In Motion has been getting hammered lately. Their stock is currently in the single digits, giving them a market value of roughly $5.6 Billion. RIM is no longer Canada’s wealthiest tech company. RIM was surpassed by IT firm CGI, who ranks in at $6.2 Billion.
RIM recently hired banks J.P. Morgan and RBC Capital Markets to evaluate ‘strategic options’ for the company. Many have wondered the outcome and if RIM would be interested in selling parts or all of the company. Josh Rubin from TheStar breaks down RIM’s valuation:
Nada. Zilch. Zippo. A big fat goose-egg. That’s how much value there is in RIM’s manufacturing arm, which makes BlackBerry smartphones and PlayBook tablet computers. With pressure on prices from lower-cost smartphones running Google’s Android operating system and a backlog of unsold phones and tablets that may have to be written down, the manufacturing arm doesn’t make a dime, and in fact is likely losing money.
Almost every day comes news of a new patent infringement lawsuit in the technology industry. With all those suits, patents must be worth a pretty penny, right? And RIM has lots of patents—heck, they’re practically swimming in the things. Yippee! Er, not so fast. While there’s still plenty of value in RIM’s patent portfolio, it’s unclear just how much. That’s because many of them are co-owned by other firms, after RIM was part of a consortium which bought the patents held by defunct telecom equipment make Nortel.
“Why would you buy that if you were Apple or Microsoft?” said Peter Misek, a technology analyst at Jefferies and Company. Misek believes if RIM held all its patents on its own, they’d be worth between $3 billion and $5 billion. In their current state, he pegs their value at $1 billion to $3 billion.
Michael Walkley of Canaccord Genuity believes RIM’s intellectual property portfolio is worth $2.5 billion, and says it would be worth another $778 million if some of the patents weren’t co-owned.
RIM’s services division includes the company’s own networks and servers through which every single bit of BlackBerry traffic in the world runs. Much of RIM’s profit in the services division comes from a monthly fee paid by telecommunications carriers to access the network. That fee is paid per subscriber (RIM says it has 78 million). Telecommunications companies have been pushing back for a while on how much they pay. It used to be a given that it was $5 per subscriber, but Misek believes that’s now down to $4. Walkley, on the other hand, suggests that it’s only the key corporate customers who would hold any value for a potential buyer. He estimates there are roughly 20 million of them, which bring in roughly $6.50 a month each. That base would be worth a total of $2.75 billion to a buyer, Walkley believes.ADVERTISEMENT
Misek’s range for the worth of the services division is even wider, ranging from $1 billion to $5 billion. That’s because of uncertainty of how much money per customer they’ll be able to bring in, and the potential for their subscriber base to shrink.
The pile of cash
Surely money’s worth something, right? Yes, as long as it’s still around. RIM currently has roughly $2.1 billion in cash (and investments which can easily be converted into cash). While Heins has suggested RIM’s cash pile will grow slightly when the next quarterly results are announced June 28, that may well be the last boost for a while. Given the company already has an operating loss, it’s likely already starting to burn through the cash. Tack on the costs of restructuring the company, including paying severance packages to employees being shown the door, and the money won’t last long, analysts agree.
“I don’t include the cash in my valuation for RIM, because it’s not going to be there,” said Misek.
“We assign zero value to RIM’s cash in our sum-of-parts analysis because 1) RIM’s core business is running at an operating loss and will likely start burning cash and 2) we believe future severance payments needed to downsize the business following an acquisition could use the majority of RIM’s cash,” wrote Walkley.