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Fortune magazine names Research in Motion world's fastest-growing company

TORONTO - American business magazine Fortune has named Canadiantechnology icon Research in Motion Ltd. (TSX:RIM), maker of theBlackBerry, the world's fastest-growing company.

TORONTO - American business magazine Fortune has named Canadian technology icon Research in Motion Ltd. (TSX:RIM), maker of the BlackBerry, the world's fastest-growing company.

Waterloo, Ont.-based RIM - one of Canada's most valuable companies with a stock worth of $44 billion - was one of two Canadian businesses that made the top 10 after Fortune opened its 100 Fastest-Growing Companies list to non-American businesses for the first time.

Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (TSX:POT), the world's biggest fertilizer company, came 10th.

RIM holds a 56 per cent share of the US$12-billion - and growing - American smartphone market, and is expected to see three-year average earnings-per-share growth of 84 per cent and revenue growth of 77 per cent. Fortune says this is largely on the strength of RIM's foray beyond the corporate world into the highly competitive consumer market.

The rapidly expanding company, 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 as its profits and revenues soar.

Started in a southwestern Ontario community known for its technical university, Research in Motion now has operations across North America and is growing into Europe and Asia.

In its latest quarterly report, Research In Motion said it earned US$643 million, or $1.12 per share, compared with $482.5 million, or 84 cents per share a year earlier. Revenues rose 53 per cent to US$3.42 billion.

RIM also added 3.8 million new subscribers in the quarter, bringing its overall subscriber count to 28.5 million.

"The increasing adoption of 3G networks worldwide, increasing adoption of Internet worldwide, consumers' ease of use and need to get data on the go" have combined to create soaring demand for RIM's products, said Veritas Investment Research Corp. analyst Neeraj Monga.

The Fortune article about RIM compares co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis to Apple (Nasdaq:APPL) head Steve Jobs, and says the two Canadians are "more than holding their own" against the popular iPhone, Apple's trend-setting smartphone product that has met with massive consumer demand.

By comparison, Apple takes 39th place in the magazine's top-100 list.

However, Fortune warns that RIM's competition from the likes of Apple, Acer, Dell and Motorola is "getting increasingly stiff" and RIM will have to work hard to keep up with changing consumer demands.

RIM is in the midst of a battle to buy a prized piece of Nortel Networks' wireless technology business after the fallen Canadian high-tech giant filed for bankruptcy in January and began selling the company piece by piece.

Lazaridis told a parliamentary committee earlier this month that RIM had a handshake deal to buy the technology when the agreement was suddenly scuttled.

RIM, which has succeeded Nortel as Canada's most prestigious high-tech company, has made a high-profile plea for Ottawa to intervene to protect Canada's national interest by ensuring Nortel's technology doesn't fall into foreign hands.

Swedish telecom company Ericsson was the successful bidder for a key chunk of Nortel's wireless technology business while American equipment vendor Avaya Inc. has made an initial US$475-million bid to buy Nortel's office-system business through a separate auction.

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.

Shares in RIM lost $2.26 to $78.03 in Monday trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange, while Potash Corp. shares lost $5.05 to $100.45.

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