RIM rides analyst upgrade to big day on Wall Street

Shares of BlackBerry maker close at highest price since mid-June after target increase

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It may be bleeding mobile OS market share to Google's Android, but Research in Motion shares (NASDAQ: RIMM) moved sharply north on Tuesday after an analyst for Jefferies & Co. raised his price target for the smartphone manufacturer by a whopping 45 percent.

RIM ended the day at 61.83, up 2.84, or 4.8 percent, from Monday's closing price of 58.99. It's the Canadian company's highest closing price since it finished at 61.91 on June 17. And while shares are down 8.5 percent for the year, they've climbed 44 percent since Aug. 31.

(Also see: Android eating RIM's lunch in smartphone OS market)

Even after today's jump, RIM has a long way to go to meet the $80 price target set Tuesday by Jefferies analyst Peter Misek, who raised that number from $55 a share in the course of upgrading the company's stock to a Buy from a Hold.

Misek thinks RIM's QNX operating system for its upcoming Playbook tablet computer will be a hit, citing "a great browsing experience," scalability, security and low bandwidth needs. RIM will introduce Playbook into the U.S. market in next year's first quarter, but is targeting Asian markets as particularly promising for the under-$500 tablet device.

He also suggests that QNX might be the key to turning around RIM's fortunes in the smartphone market. BlackBerries are expected to begin running the OS sometime next year, and Misek believes it could be sooner than later.

While RIM has been getting creamed by Android in the U.S. market, Misek says strength in emerging international markets, notably China, could tide the company over until QNX gets traction.

Finally, Misek thinks RIM's loss of market share in its core enterprise business is slower than suspected. Sure, he thinks that now, but just wait until Windows Phone 7 gets some traction. I'm kidding.

Sounds like QNX is a pretty good mobile OS, based on Misek's intel. But he's basing an extremely optimistic target-price upgrade in large part on an OS that has yet to prove itself in the wild. It'll be interesting to see how things play out over the next four or five months.

Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.

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