Research In Motion's shares rebound after losses since new CEO appointed

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MONTREAL - Research In Motion's shares rebounded strongly Wednesday after two days of sharp losses as analysts suggested the BlackBerry maker may either still be a takeover target or that investors have a better opinion of RIM's new CEO, Thorsten Heins.

"There may be some optimism that the new CEO can execute," ThinkEquity analyst Mark McKechnie said from San Francisco.

Shares in RIM (TSX:RIM) closed up 8.1 per cent — or $1.23 — at $16.40 in trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

But investors still could believe that RIM, a target of takeover rumours for months, could be acquired, he said.

"I do think there's a potential takeout out there," said McKechnie, managing director of broadband mobility technologies.

McKechnie also said RIM's shares could have bounced up in anticipation of South Korean electronics giant Samsung's quarterly results on Wednesday and any potential talk concerning RIM on its analyst conference call.

U.S.-based technology blog The Boy Genius Report recently said Samsung was a leading contender to buy some or all of struggling RIM, but the price may have been too high.

RIM's stock fell both Monday and Tuesday amid continuing questions about whether the BlackBerry maker's new CEO will be able to fix RIM, which has lost market share in the lucrative U.S. market to Apple's iPhone and smartphones using Google's Android operating system such as Samsung.

Benj Gallander, president of Contra The Heard Investment Letter, also said there could be some renewed enthusiasm for RIM's change in leadership.

"I guess a lot of people are looking at the financials and perhaps are thinking that it's cheap based on the book value and are happy that there has been a change at the top," Gallander said from Toronto.

"Takeover rumours tend to move a corporate price," he said. "RIM, of course, now could be had for a lot less now than in the past."

In the first two days of trading since Canada's premier information technology company announced Lazaridis and Balsillie had stepped aside as co-CEOs, RIM lost about $1 billion in market value.

McKechnie said Heins message that there would not be any major changes at the Waterloo, Ont., company wasn't comforting.

"I wasn't terribly satisfied with what I heard form Thorsten. I do think he's an insider that is pretty well associated with the old management team they threw out. His message didn't seem to be too different."

Although Heins said this week that RIM would pay more attention to consumers' tastes, he signalled that the Waterloo, Ont., company isn't making a major move.

"I don't think that there is a drastic change needed," Heins told analysts in his first conference call as CEO.

RIM's problems over the past year have been compounded by disappointing sales of its PlayBook tablet and a four-day outage involving its BlackBerry messenger instant texting service last fall that affected users around the globe.

RIM's stock was once so highly priced as to briefly elevate it to Canada's most valuable company, worth more than $70 billion. Its market capitalization stands now around $8.6 billion.

While Balsillie and Lazaridis have left day-to-day operations, they both still remain on RIM's board and will have influence through their large ownership stakes.