RIM Investor Appears Confident in BlackBerry Maker’s Resurgence

An investor in Research in Motion isn’t downplaying the struggles facing the BlackBerry maker.

But Prem Watsa of RIM investor Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. appears confident in an eventual turnaround.

"Is it going to turn around in three months, six months, nine months? No," Bloomberg quoted Watsa, Fairfax’s CEO, as saying Thursday following Fairfax’s annual meeting. "But if you’re looking four, five years — we make investments over four, five years."

"Here’s a company with $2.1 billion of cash and no debt," Watsa, who has been compared to Warren Buffett, said in the report.

Investors haven’t been kind to RIM this year. Its shares have plummeted 70 percent over the past 12 months, according to Reuters.

The Canadian company, which launched the BlackBerry smartphone in 1999, has struggled with market share losses, management credibility issues, delayed product releases and a series of public relations gaffes.

Apple, not BlackBerry, is now considered the innovator in the smartphone space, and many analysts appear to have written off RIM as a serious contender in North America. Most of RIM’s subscriber growth, its chief executive Thorsten Heins recently said, is coming from international markets.

Watsa acknowledged the possibility that RIM might collapse, Bloomberg reported, but he distinguished its circumstances from that of Nortel Networks Corp., the once powerful telecom equipment maker in Canada whose bankrupt assets have been sold.

He also suggested investors have overreacted to the problems facing RIM. "People think that … when things are going down it’s over, and when things are going up, it will never stop," Watsa, a RIM board member, was quoted by Reuters as stating. "The reality is it’s different."

Watsa’s Fairfax Financial Holdings owns 5.1 percent of RIM, ranking as its third-largest investor, Bloomberg said. The financial services holding company is based in Toronto, Canada.


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