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The Street loses faith in RIM

Embattled smartphone maker Research in Motion (RIM-T) has lost the confidence of many in the analyst community -- a group which used to celebrate it as a tech trend-setter and industry leader.

In the wake of RIM's fourth-quarter financial results, several analysts questioned the company's future and highlighted the increasingly steep hill the firm will have to climb in order to catch such rivals as Apple (AAPL-Q) and Google (GOOG-Q). Though the stock shot higher in trading on Friday.

Thorsten Heins, the BlackBerry-maker's new CEO, stepped up on Thursday for his first quarterly earnings report and layed out a new course for the company. Heins said he is considering partnerships and joint ventures, licensing and "other ways to leverage RIM's assets and maximize value for our stakeholders."

But some analysts remain skeptical.

"Bottom line, RIM is facing an uphill battle and every passing day of falling behind will make it more difficult to recover. More importantly, we cannot think of any situation in the history of mobile handsets when a company recovered from this level of strategic error and market loss. Time will tell if RIM can be the exception," Anil Doradla, an analyst at William Blair, said in a note to clients. "We are far from giving the company the benefit of the doubt at this stage and remain on the sidelines."

RIM reported a 55-percent drop in adjusted earnings of 80 cents per share -- which excluded a write down of 66 cents for goodwill impairments and 38 cents per share on inventory relating to its BlackBerry 7 smartphones.

It also announced that former co-CEO Jim Balsille stepped down from the board and a number of senior executives were leaving the company.

One analyst says RIM is facing a major decline in demand for its products -- and he even questions the future of RIM's lucrative services segment.

"In our opinion, RIM's Service revenue is entering a secular decline from carrier push-back and a subscriber base that will peak and start to decline. The thesis that RIM's Service business offers predictable cash flow into the future needs to be called into question," Kris Thompson, National Bank analyst said in a research note.

And W. Brett Wilson, Chairman at Canoe Financial, says the company's long-time stranglehold on the smartphone business may also be in peril.

"I don't believe that market is sustainable. If they ignore the rest of the so-called world, the rest of the world is going to be coming after the business market. They don't have a strong enough beach hold to stay that course alone," Wilson tells BNN.

Another analyst has little faith the company will be capable of rolling out its new line of BlackBerry 10 phones -- expected in the fall -- in the midst of a massive management shakeup.

"We believe the current management team clearly has a very tough task ahead of steadying this ship without the support of key personnel," said Sameet Kanade, an analyst at Northern Securities. "The Chief Marking Officer and Chief Operating Officer vacancies ahead of the launch of the BB-10 platform are, in our opinion, expected to increase the challenges for a company already bereft of a quality leadership team…We expect such critical shortfalls to create additional challenges for the successful launch of the BB-10 platform." CTV Two CTV News CTV News Channel BNN - Business News Network CP24