Shareholders meetings are typically sedate, if not soporific, events — colorless, thinly attended affairs full of familiar company metrics and messaging. But not always, as we’re likely to discover on Tuesday, when Research In Motion holds its annual meeting for shareholders.
With its stock down some 50 percent since Thorsten Heins was named CEO, its share of the U.S. smartphone market greatly diminished at 11 percent, and Wall Street’s already low opinion of it souring after yet another delay to the planned launch of the BlackBerry 10 operating system, RIM’s leadership has a lot to answer for and much to explain. And shareholders are not likely to go easy on it tomorrow.
Indeed, there are already significant signs of unrest. Top among them, a New York Times article today, speculating that RIM may become the target of shareholder lawsuits for making irrationally optimistic pronouncements in the face of an increasingly grim reality and continued delays to BlackBerry 10.
“They’re going to get sued and they should get sued because I think a closer look at the record is likely to unearth knowing and willful misrepresentation,” said Jean-Louis Gassée, a partner at Allegis Capital and the former president of Apple’s products division. “When the CEO says there’s nothing wrong with the company as it is, it’s not cautious, it doesn’t make sense.”
No, it certainly doesn’t, as noted here last week. And shareholders tired of RIM’s inane “What, me worry?” narrative have every right to castigate it.
RIM is not poised to regain its leadership position in the smartphone market, it’s fighting for its life. That’s easily proven by a quick look at the company’s share price and its declining traction in the smartphone market.
Far more difficult to prove: Allegations that RIM executives knew BlackBerry 10 wouldn’t ship this year, when they were publicly promising that it would. That could be a violation of securities law.
That’s the last thing RIM needs right now. We’ll find out if it gets it tomorrow.