RIM shares rise to 13-month high on back of licensing talk

BlackBerry maker's shares rally, but management team play down reports that licensing deals are in the offing.

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Research In Motion (RIM) shares surged to a 13-month high yesterday after its chief executive said the company may consider licensing its software to other mobile phone makers.

In an interview with a German newspaper on Monday, Thorsten Heins, the chief executive, said RIM's ongoing review could potentially lead to the sale of its handset business or the licensing of its software to rival smartphone companies.

"The main thing for now is to successfully introduce Blackberry 10. Then we'll see," Heins was reported as saying.

The main thing for now is to successfully introduce Blackberry 10.

The company, set to launch its new line of devices on January 30, played down the significance of the comments, saying that Heins's comments were in line with his prior statements.

"We do not have anything new to report on our strategic review at this time," said RIM spokesman Nick Manning.

The comments sent RIM's Toronto-listed shares up as much as 17.6 per cent, with the shares up 15.3 per cent at C$18.12 at 1400 ET. The company's typically more-active Nasdaq-listed shares were not being traded on Monday because US financial markets were closed for a public holiday.

RIM announced a far-reaching strategic review last May in which it was widely expected to examine all options, from software licensing deals to an outright sale of the company.

The company virtually invented mobile email with its first BlackBerry devices more than a decade ago, but its market share has evaporated as consumers have flocked to Apple's iPhone and devices based on Google's Android operating system.

RIM now hopes its revamped line of touchscreen and keyboard devices will help it win back market share.

RIM shares are down almost 90 per cent from an all-time high of over C$150 in 2008, but the stock has rallied in the last four months as the launch of the BlackBerry 10 devices nears. Its shares have nearly tripled in value since dipping as low as C$6.10 in late September.

The stock rose more than 6 per cent on Friday alone, after an influential analyst raised his rating on the company and said that the BlackBerry 10 operating system performed as well or better than rivals in recent tests.

Byron Capital analyst Tom Astle on Monday raised his price target on RIM shares to C$18 from C$14.

"There are several emerging datapoints that suggest this may be a more successful product cycle than many expected," said Astle in a note to clients.

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