Shareholders Pressure RIM to Make Drastic Changes

Research In Motion Ltd. (NASDAQ:RIMM) is expected to give in to pressure from shareholders by restructuring its board and naming a new chair to study strategic options, but investors wanting a drastic change may be let down.

The BlackBerry giant has lost considerable share in the United States, which is its most valuable market. Its stock has dropped more than 70% over the last year with unsatisfactory quarterly results and delays of key products.

The problems drove activist investors to ask to modify to the company’s conventional structure, where the co-chief executive officers also co-chair the board of directors. The company came up with a directors’ committee to look at the governance structure, and RIM says it is on track to report by the end of January.

Analysts predict that the committee suggest a separation of duties, replacing Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie as co-chairs. They would remain CEOs. They also predict that the company suggest Barbara Stymiest as the new chair. Many industry observers feel Ms. Stymiest will not be able to take the company in a drastic new direction, though news of her potential selection increased RIM stock on Tuesday.

One significant shareholder, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “In technology, time stands still for no one – you don’t have a lot of time to think about this. We’re not saying sell the farm, break the farm up. But they should look at [that] as at least one option. … They need to look at whether they can be a long-term survivor. And that really comes down to finding the right people to look at it.”

Here’s how handset stocks are kicking off the new year:

Research In Motion Limited (NASDAQ:RIMM): RIMM shares recently traded at $15.07, down $0.01, or 0.07%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $12.45 to $70.54. Volume today was 7,576,127 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 22,703,700 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 3.55, while trailing earnings are $4.25 per share.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL): AAPL shares recently traded at $416.25, up $2.81, or 0.68%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $310.50 to $426.70. Volume today was 4,763,777 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 15,347,000 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 15.04, while trailing earnings are $27.68 per share.

Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK): NOK shares recently traded at $5.33, up $0.25, or 4.92%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $4.46 to $11.75. Volume today was 34,407,958 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 28,800,200 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 22.67, while trailing earnings are $0.24 per share.

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT): MSFT shares recently traded at $27.48, up $0.08, or 0.29%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $23.65 to $29.46. Volume today was 26,084,070 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 51,883,900 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 9.99, while trailing earnings are $2.75 per share.

Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG): GOOG shares recently traded at $659.30, down $8.98, or 1.34%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $473.02 to $670.25. Volume today was 1,662,078 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 3,023,350 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 22.47, while trailing earnings are $29.34 per share.