Is BlackBerry’s Z10 Off to a Flying Start?

Preliminary evidence shows that BlackBerry’s (NASDAQ:BBRY) one-week-old Z10 smartphone is off to a better start than many analysts had predicted. A pair of research notes from Bernstein analyst Pierre Ferragu and Barclays’ Jeff Kvaal on Monday supported early reports by Jefferies & Co. that the new device was seeing higher demand than the original BlackBerry handset did when it was released in 2003.

With a new name, a new stock market ticker, and a new plan to return to its former glory or at least grab a larger share of the smartphone market than the fourth quarter’s 4.7 percent, the company formerly known as Research In Motion has put a lot of time and money behind its new phones. But it is still too early to determine whether the initial buzz surrounding the Z10 will translate into sustainable demand over the long term.

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However, the initial noise is definitely encouraging, with channel checks showing strong demand. On Monday, analysts at Bernstein raised their price target on the company’s shares from $12 to $22 and gave a conservative estimate of the company’s prospects. “We have grown more confident in the likely success of the BlackBerry 10 launch, supported by low channel inventories, strong operator support, and material pent-up demand,” wrote Ferragu in the note seen by AllThingsD. “Initial feedback we have received from distributors on the first days of sales is particularly positive.”