That Pre Sure Got Some Powerful Magic, Boy…

Published on March 25, 2009
by John Paczkowski


It has not yet been given a price or a release date, but Palm’s forthcoming Pre handset continues to have a remarkably restorative effect on the company’s share price. It wasn’t so long ago that Palm shares were trading just above a dollar. Today, they’re hovering around $8.67, bouyed up by little more than the device’s Consumer Electronics Show debut, an uneventful media Webcast, some hyperbolic remarks from one of the company’s investors and the enthusiasm of a few bullish analysts. Among them, Deutsche Bank’s Chris Whitmore and Jonathan Goldberg, who boosted their price target on Palm (PALM) to $12 from $10 today claiming that Palm will not only ship the device on schedule, but will follow it up with other form factors. “Since their earnings release last week, we have conducted a round of checks on Palm and remain confident in the potential for their new Pre smartphone to turnaround the company’s results,” the two wrote in a note. “The Pre timetable seems on track at least, and both carrier and developer interest remains high….We also confirmed earlier checks and vague hints on their recent call that the company is working on other form factors which we could see in the market sooner than expected.”

Quite a vote of confidence. Though to be fair, it’s not shared by everyone. Certainly, Needham analyst Charlie Wolf is looking askance at claims that the Pre will turn out to be Palm’s iPhone. “The stock appears fully valued even if the Pre turns into a stunning success,” he wrote in a recent research note. “To have management tell it, WebOS is the best thing since sliced bread and the Pre is a thing of beauty. Obviously, with the platform launch still weeks away, it’s impossible to challenge them.”

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