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RIM hires bankers, warns of losses

TORONTO — Struggling BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion warned Tuesday that it will have an operating loss in its current March-June quarter and that there will be significant layoffs this year.

RIM also said it has hired J.P. Morgan and RBC Capital Markets to help it evaluate various strategies, including opportunities to partner with other companies and license software.

RIM, a pioneer in the smartphone market, made no mention of a sale of the company, but new CEO Thor­sten Heins did not rule it out after RIM’s last earnings were released in March.

Jefferies analyst Peter Misek expects RIM to announce as many as 5,000 layoffs soon.

RIM’s stock was halted in after-hours trading Tuesday. When trading resumed, shares fell more than 10 percent, or $1.20, to $10.03.

Smaller Best Buy in business at mall

Best Buy Mobile opened last week on the lower level of Augusta Mall, selling cellphones, iPads and other tablets, said sales consultant Ashley Carter.

“They’re opening up 500 new stores like this everywhere in the U.S. This store is the third largest in the company. We don’t have many this size,” manager Melody Thomas said.

The store has a kiosk where customers can buy items available at larger Best Buy stores. The items will be shipped to the customer’s home overnight, Thomas said.

In other news

HOME PRICES ROSE in March from February in most major U.S. cities for the first time in seven months, the latest evidence of a slow recovery taking shape in the housing market. Three of the weakest markets showed signs of improvement.

SPRINT NEXTEL CORP. on Tuesday said it will shut down the Nextel network as early as June 30 next year, cutting off service for its characteristic walkie-talkie-like Nextel phones. There were 5.4 million phones active on the Nextel network at the end of March.

FACEBOOK STOCK fell below $29 on Tuesday for the first time. The stock fell $3.07, or 9.6 percent, to close at $28.84, down 24 percent since its public debut.


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