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商业 - 科技

黑莓信徒归来

Kevin Kelleher 2013年06月21日

苦苦挣扎的黑莓气数已尽?一群分析师和投资者发声称:没这回事!在他们看来,黑莓最黑暗的日子已经过去了。黑莓推出的最新款智能手机销量虽然拼不过苹果和三星,但已经超出了预期;黑莓的股价虽然只是巅峰时期的一个零头,但已经开始回升。而且,不管怎么样,大家现在又开始聊黑莓了。

    过去十年间,在科技行业中还有哪家公司能像黑莓(BlackBerry)这样经历了如此激烈的大起大落呢?

    如果你还有点印象的话,黑莓公司【今年年初,它抛弃了原来那个笨重、但却可能更有诗意的名字——“行动研究公司”(RIM】曾经一度在业界如日中天。十年前,它的股价不过才每股15美元。由于它能制造具有安全可靠的邮件功能的顶级手机,以及在智能手机萌芽期遥遥领先于对手,这家公司迅速声名鹊起,股价随之不断飙升。

    五年前,这家公司的股价达到了每股145美元,也就是五年间增长了近十倍。看多的投资者非常自信,认为这家生产有史以来最好手机——至少在那时看来确实如此——的加拿大公司肯定能征服世界【RIM一度被《财富》杂志(Fortune)评选为美国增长最快的公司】。然而人们没料到,市场上的智能手机变得更智能了。

    2007年,iPhone横空出世。消费者立刻被吸引住了。苹果公司(Apple)征服了世界。不管黑莓手机那个小键盘用起来是多么让人上瘾,也不管用它发邮件和短信是多么轻松自如,但iPhone凭借灵敏的触摸屏和引人入胜的自带应用(想想Google Maps! iPhoto! Pocket Guitar!),立刻开启了一个完全不同的后黑莓世界。

    而黑莓在这个世界里一直在苦苦挣扎,想要找到自己的位置。而实际上它的地位已经跌倒谷底。曾经风光无限的145美元股价?那是iPhone问世之后一年的事。去年,黑莓的股价已经跌到只有6美元一股了。

    黑莓曾拍胸脯表示要推出一款触屏手机,能和iPhone一较高下,或者说可以和许多在它之后问世的搭载谷歌(Google)安卓(Android)系统的手机相抗衡。如果新推出的手机操作系统有漏洞,那无异于自杀,所以黑莓不断完善这个系统,哪怕这意味着一而再、再而三地推迟发布日期。几个月前,BB10终于问世。然而,到了这个时候,很多人已经彻底看扁了这家公司,认为它毫无投资价值了。

    我们可以来看看投资者放弃黑莓股票的历程如何?9个月前,黑莓的股票按其近期的低位进行交易,做空方卖空了8,800万股,即其每日平均可交易股份的两倍(用华尔街的行话来说就是“空头净额比率”)。5月底,空头净额已达到1.71亿股,即“空头净额比率”达到9倍。

    当时,黑莓的股价已从6美元涨到14美元。的确,这是去年秋季股价的两倍还多,但是要知道,这仍然是其5年前股价的十分之一。《钢铁侠》(Iron Man)第一部上映时,黑莓公司的股价是145美元。现在《钢铁侠3》都上映了,投资者当时的投资额现在却缩水了九成之多。

    大家读到《苹果大战三星》这类头条新闻时,可能会想,黑莓真是玩完了。不过不是每个人都这么想的。还是有一帮坚定的分析师和投资者认为,黑莓最糟糕的时期已经过去了。而詹姆斯•法赛特近期在一篇为太平洋皇冠证券(Pacific Crest)撰写的短文中称:“我们对黑莓的评级仍为负面,同时也相信,要靠黑莓10来打翻身仗,从而获得可持续盈利能力,已经变得越来越不可能。”

    Has any company in the technology sector seen higher highs and lower lows in the past decade than BlackBerry?

    If you remember, BlackBerry (BBRY) -- which earlier this year changed its name from the clunkier if more poetic name of Research-in-Motion -- once ascended to great heights. Ten years ago, it traded at a modest $15 a share. Then its reputation for making top-of-the-line phones with secure, reliable messaging -- along with an early lead in the budding smartphones -- pushed its stock up, up, up.

    So far up that, five years ago, the company's shares were trading around $145 a share, a tenfold increase in only five years. Bullish investors were confident the Canadian company that had created the best mobile phone ever -- well, at the time at least -- was poised to conquer the world. (RIM was once named Fortune's fastest-growing company in the U.S.) Instead smartphones got, well, smarter.

    In 2007, the iPhone came. Consumers saw. And Apple (AAPL) conquered. For all the addictive allure of the bubbly BlackBerry keypad under your thumbs, and no matter how much easier it was to type emails and messages on it, the iPhone's intuitive touchscreen and the seductive apps that came with it (Google Maps! iPhoto! Pocket Guitar!) pointed to a decidedly post-BlackBerry world.

    In that world, BlackBerry has struggled to find its role. And here is where the lows got pretty low. That stock price of $145 a share? It came one year after the iPhone appeared. Last year, it descended to $6 a share.

    BlackBerry promised a touchscreen phone that could rival the iPhone or the many the Android phones developed by Google (GOOG) that had appeared in its wake. Delivering a new mobile OS that had bugs would be product suicide, so Blackberry perfected its efforts, even though it meant delay after delay after delay. And by the time BB10 finally arrived in recent months, many had written the company off for good.

    Here's an illustration of how some investors had given up on the stock. Nine months ago, when BlackBerry's stock was trading near its recent lows, bearish investors had sold 88 million shares short, or two days its average daily volume (termed "days to cover" in Wall Street parlance). At the end of May, short interest had mounted to 171 million shares, or nine days to cover.

    In that time, BlackBerry's stock has risen from $6 a share to $14 a share. Yes, that's more than double its price last fall, but consider: It's still a tenth of its price five years ago. When the firstIron Man movie came out, you could have bought this company's stock for $145 a share. And now that Iron Man 3 is in theaters, you would have a dime for every dollar you invested.

    Reading headlines about the Apple vs. Samsung battle, you might think it's all over for BlackBerry. But not everyone thinks so. There remains a strong contingent of analysts and investors who think the worst days of this company are behind it. "We remain negative on BBRY and believe a turnaround to sustainable profitability based on BlackBerry 10 appears increasingly unlikely," James Faucette said in a recent note for Pacific Crest.

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