BlackBerry Is Materially Undervalued -- If You Can Get Past Its Risks

BlackBerry Is Materially Undervalued -- If You Can Get Past Its Risks

With brief moments of hope scattered through its recent history, BlackBerry has yet to catch a real break. Once the pride and glory of Canada, the company hasn't introduced a product that has been truly embraced by its users in several years, falling far behind its competitors in the race for market share. In the company's most recent quarter, earnings yielded another dose of disappointment to investors. While many of Wall Street's reactions are overreactions, the data coming from the smartphone company just wasn't good, including lightweight results in the long-heralded BlackBerry 10 platform and devices. At this point, the stock is again desperately cheap, but is there any reason to invest?

Stuck in the mud
BlackBerry management had counted on BB10 and the new phones introduced alongside it to be the winch that pulled the company out of the mud -- but that didn't happen. Analysts had held moderate estimates for sales of the devices, yet those were not even met. The company sold just 2.7 million BB10 devices, lost 4 million subscribers, and altogether delivered a bottom-line loss to a group of analysts and investors expecting some kind of profit. In turn, the shares traded down more than 20%.

Worse yet, some 250 more employees lost their badges at the company's Waterloo headquarters, and on the back of thousands of layoffs last year.

So, again, we are confronted with a very cheap tech stock that undoubtedly holds some value, but can it come to light?

A vote for yes
Timothy Raschuk of Frontaura Capital posted a bullish piece on SumZero recently giving the stock a target price of just under $20 per share -- more than double its current offer.

Raschuk's thesis goes along with CEO Thorsten Heins' recent comments:

We are five months into a platform transformation that we anticipate will drive future smartphone device sales, greater enterprise efficiency, and a new mobile computing opportunity for years to come. We've never been a devices-only company. We also run a global secure data network and services business. And we don't plan to run the company with a short-term device-only strategy.

That may sound like too-optimistic executive cheerleading, but it does highlight one important element in the BlackBerry story: security. While its devices are undoubtedly falling short in early expectations, BlackBerry is still a formidable player when it comes to enterprise services and security. Raschuk values the service division at $2 billion, which along with cash and other assets currently at $2.35 billion makes up nearly all of the company's current market cap ($4.45 billion). Factor in the rest of the operations and intangibles, and the thesis presents a strong margin of safety to compensate for short-term erosion in subscriber count and device sales.

Foolish bottom line
The risks to BlackBerry are very clear, and on the tongue of every analyst covering it. For a prospective investor, it's still a risky bet, as a full turnaround cannot be guaranteed. But, for the value-seekers, BlackBerry is trading significantly under its intrinsic value, even if that value is to decrease in coming quarters.

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