BlackBerry quarterly earnings: not a complete disaster

Faith Merino · March 28, 2014 · Short URL:

Shares pop 3.8% Friday morning after BlackBerry posts a smaller than expected loss

BlackBerry may have slowed its free fall death spiral, but it’s not out of the woods yet (I don’t always use metaphors, but when I do, I like them mixed). The company announced its Q4 2014 results Friday morning, and while it has posted a smaller than expected loss, revenue still missed the mark.

First the good(ish) news: a narrower loss! Hurrah! The company saw a GAAP loss of $423 million, or $0.80 a share. But excluding restructuring costs and other one-time items, the company’s loss shrank to $0.08 a share. That’s a monumental improvement over the $4.4 BILLION—or $8.37 per share—that the company lost last year.

You can thank new CEO John Chen and his cost-cutting efforts for that. But it hasn’t perked up revenue, which fell to a new low of $967 million. That’s a decrease of 64% from the $2.7 billion it saw in sales in the same quarter last year. It also falls well below analyst estimates of $1.11 billion.

WHAT the company is selling is just as much a problem as how little it’s selling. Of the 3.4 million BlackBerry devices sold in the quarter, a full 2.3 million were older BlackBerry 7 devices, which means the new BlackBerry 10 line isn’t getting the traction the company expected.

Chen said in a call Friday morning that the Q20 phone—an old-school-style QWERTY phone with trackpad and touchscreen—will be available in Q1 2015. Additionally, the super low-cost Z3, which is being launched exclusively in Indonesia in April, will follow with a worldwide rollout shortly thereafter. The Z3 will have a sub-$200 pricetag, which will do a lot to gain traction in the fast-growing emerging markets.

And the company will give some credit where credit is due—namely, BlackBerry’s older devices that were once beloved and then cast by the wayside when the company began moving in a new direction. Chen spoke of plans to revive production of BlackBerry Bold, which is still one of the company’s most popular devices.

"I am very pleased with our progress and execution in fiscal Q4 against the strategy we laid out three months ago. We have significantly streamlined operations, allowing us to reach our expense reduction target one quarter ahead of schedule," said Chen, in a statement. "BlackBerry is on sounder financial footing today with a path to returning to growth and profitability."

Altogether, the company’s revenue for fiscal year 2014 came in at $6.8 billion, which is down 38% from $11.1 billion in fiscal 2013, while net loss for the year came in at $11.18 per share, compared to $1.20 per share for fiscal year 2013. 


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