Filling in some gaps in the Blackberry…
Earlier this year, Blackberry-maker Research in Motion (RIMM) was looking wan. In April the SEC ratcheted its investigation of the firm’s past stock option grant practices up to formal status. Federal prosecutors and Canadian regulators started poking around too, and the options mess led to restated financials and a suit by a Canadian pension fund. And then there was that embarrassing service outage.
Things are looking up now. Way up. RIM’s stock price hit an all-time high Monday, following Friday’s report (on Form 6-K) of second-quarter earnings and revenues that were double last year’s. Monday also brought the settlement of that pesky pension lawsuit. (Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, RIM’s co-CEOs, will cough up $7.5M each.)
Still, after reading the 6-K, I’m a little worried about RIM, the way you might be if your friend was out every night looking fabu, but when you went back to her house you realized she hadn’t been washing the dishes.
Though the order of risk factors in the MD&A isn’t necessarily significant, I noticed that the options investigations, which had been fourth on the list of risks in RIM’s first-quarter report filed in July, were quietly moved up to first place in last week’s second quarter filing. Meanwhile, as part of its penance for the stock options problems, RIM had said in the July report that it was “in the process of establishing an internal audit department” (seems odd it didn’t already have one) and also had begun a search to fill two new positions: a GAAP expert and a securities law compliance expert who would administer the granting of stock options. But three months later this disclosure is unchanged, so apparently there’s no progress to report on these fronts.
C’mon, RIM. You’re under investigation, with the potential for criminal liability. Better get that internal audit function going and fill those crucial jobs. Dangle extra incentives if you must, like lifetime Blackberry service for the employees’ extended families, or one of those adorable Pivos from Japan that drive sideways. Or how about just paying a lot more money? We’ll check back with you next quarter and see how it’s going.