Financial analysts are contemplating that RIMM could be a potential buyout target and the dead money encapsulated in its asset would have a second life. We think it's less likely the case.
Technology advances is brutal. Being obsolete is equal to being dead money. RIMM's assets are tied to manufacturing or servicing its products, email smartphone. If email smartphone is obsolete, so would be its assets. And obsolete assets fetch little cash.
We don't have numbers so we base our discussion on categories.
First it comes to the assets for manufacturing. This include the design, plant, machinery, inventory, etc. Suppose RIMM is acquired. Let's try to figure out what the buyer would do with RIMM's manufacture related asset. Although financial analysts wouldn't see the difference, entrepreneurs in technology sector would know better. Switch to a new design or manufacturing process requires tremendous effort to redo the design, retooling the machinery and re-configuring the plants, especially when the technology is obsolete. More often than not, it cost more than come up with a new design or build a new plant from scratch.
Using TV as an example, would customers buy a cathode ray tube (CRT) when LCD is available on the market? Not likely. Would an entrepreneurs buy a CRT manufacture when LCD technology is ready? Not likely, either. Although a CRT manufacture makes TV like a LCD manufacture does, the technology is hugely different. The tool that was designed to handle tubes is not going to handle flat panels. So are the workers. They lack the experiences.
Secondly, how about the assets servicing existing products? RIMM owns network operation centers that service its customers. But RIMM's market share is diminishing. Therefore down the road its capital expenditure will have less return because it services a shrinking customer base. Would a buyer like to invest more money on assets with gloomy future? Not a sane one.
Analysts may also argue that a buyer can take advantage of RIMM's existing market share. How? By paying customers to switch to new products or services? They are switching without incentives anyway. Why bother burn cash for it? Leave them alone? Then we go back to the second case where the buyer faces diminishing return on capital.
RIMM might be a hiding gem, but we didn't see its value as a buyout target.