RIM world's fastest-growing company, says Fortune
Fortune magazine has named Canadian technology icon Research in Motion Ltd., maker of the BlackBerry, the world's fastest-growing company.
The Waterloo, Ont.-based company was able to make the list this year after Fortune opened its 100 Fastest-Growing Companies list to non-American businesses for the first time.
Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan, the world's biggest fertilizer company, came in at 10th.
Jessi Hempel, who writes about technology, advertising and media for Fortune, says RIM moved into the top spot easily.
"We looked back over the last three years at revenue, profits and total earnings. And RIM simply blew the competitors away," she told Canada AM Tuesday from New York.
"This is a company that has grown an average of 80 per cent for each of the last 10 years. They have tapped into one of the fastest growing markets and are developing a great product."
RIM, founded in 1984, has more than quadrupled its workforce in the last four years and expects to have about 12,000 employees by the end of the year.
In its latest quarterly report, the company said its revenues rose 53 per cent to US$3.42 billion. It's expected to see three-year average earnings-per-share growth of 84 per cent and revenue growth of 77 per cent.
Its stock is now worth about $44 billion.
RIM's line of Blackberry phones has long dominated the American smartphone market, and it now holds an impressive 56 per cent share of the US$12-billion market.
After conquering the corporate world and getting CEOs and junior managers alike hooked on its products, RIM has now moved to the highly competitive consumer market, convincing everyone from teens to housewives that they need to stay connected through their "BB."
The company added 3.8 million new subscribers in the last quarter, bringing its overall subscriber count to 28.5 million.
But it is precisely the company's astounding success that makes its future difficult to predict.
"It's hard to grow when you're already the king," said Hempel, noting that the North American market is essentially saturated.
Hempel also pointed out that RIM is now battling many competitors and a new slate of entrants are poised to try to enter the market in the fall. Apple's trend-setting smartphone iPhone has met with massive consumer demand and competition from the likes of Apple, Acer, Dell and Motorola is "getting increasingly stiff," Fortune magazine has said.
"This is going to be one of the hottest industries in the world," said Hempel, noting that the international market for smartphones remains essentially untapped.
"What RIM has going for it is that it was here first. It has a product we are all very used to working with," she said.
Hempel gives much of the credit of RIM's success to co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, who reportedly work together brilliantly yet do not socialize. She said that kind of relationship is rare and "has everything to do with their success."
Meanwhile, Potash Corp. has successfully cashed in on demand for fertilizer from growing markets like China, India and Brazil and has expanded rapidly through acquisitions and organic growth.
Although the fertilizer giant recently downgraded its outlook after second-quarter profits plunged nearly 80 per cent on tumbling potash and phosphate prices, CEO Bill Doyle has long said farmers can only delay fertilizer purchases for so long before it starts to affect their crop yields.
The company is predicting a rebound in demand beginning in the second half of 2009, forecasting third-quarter earnings of between 80 cents per share and $1.20 per share and between $4 to $5 per share for the full year.
With files from The Canadian Press