You may not remember, but BlackBerry (BBRY) once occupied the throne of the mobile device market; no company could touch it (you know... until Steve Jobs happened). Unfortunately for BlackBerry, and its investors, the times have long changed. Since the 2007 release of the original iPhone, BlackBerry has continuously ceded its market share to Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOG), Microsoft (MSFT), and, most recently, Chinese mobile device maker Xiaomi.
A staggering fall from its peak market cap of $70 billion in 2008, BlackBerry’s current market cap sits at a mere $5.1 billion. Today, shares of BlackBerry trade around $10, compared to more than $130/share during the first half of 2008. As such, some investors actually consider BlackBerry to be a solid value play at its current low. In fact, many are speculating that BlackBerry will find ways to improve its dwindling mobile device sales. However, it is our opinion that the company is too far behind its competitors to make any sort of significant comeback. Last quarter BlackBerry sold only 1.6 million units (out of the more than 300 million mobile devices sold worldwide). For reference, Apple sold 61 million iPhones in the same quarter.
Clearly, BlackBerry’s turnaround will not come in the form of a mobile challenger to the Android and iOS dominated smartphone market. Therefore, without a way to regain significant market share, most analysts and investors believe the company will be purchased; acquisition rumors have been the only driving force behind BlackBerry’s yearlong consistent stock price. However, the problem is that potential acquirers, like Apple or Google, have little reason to purchase BlackBerry's software and hardware. Hence, we believe the company's future success lies not within mobile device markets, but rather cyber security (just ask Kate Upton and Jennifer Lawrence).
Although BlackBerry has recently struggled in nearly every aspect of its core business, it has nevertheless maintained a superior mobile security enterprise platform. Long trusted by the U.S. Department of Defense, 16 of the 20 G20 governments, and President Obama, among other world leaders, BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) is without a doubt the company’s best service. Moreover, given current global instability, the timing could not be better for BlackBerry to simply accept defeat in mobile hardware markets and, instead, pivot to the cyber security sector.
Highlighted by incidents at Target (TGT), JP Morgan Chase (JPM), and IRS (go figure), cyber threats are at the forefront of both corporate and governmental security concerns. In fact, because of growing cyber espionage activity, the cyber security market is projected to be worth more than $75 billion in 2015 and reach $155 billion by 2019. The Obama Administration even designated $14 billion for cyber security spending in its 2016 budget proposal. If you're still not convinced, the cyber security sector as a whole has also outperformed all major indices this year; the PureFunds ISE Cyber Security ETF (HACK) is up more than 15% YTD. For context, the highest index is the Nasdaq, which is up about 7% in 2015.
BlackBerry’s executives must take advantage of the booming cyber security industry and build the company’s future around its most valuable asset: its super-secure mobile enterprise server. If you're interested in cyber security, you should follow BlackBerry to see whether or not the company begins a meaningful transition. Whether it does so or not, the cyber security sector provides a number of other enticing investment opportunities like Cisco (CSCO), FireEye (FEYE), Palo Alto Networks (PANW), CyberArk (CYBR), and Fortinet (FORT).