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Research In Motion Ltd (BBRY): Name Change, a Million Units Baby, a Surprise Profit and More

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” It was a year for change and we delivered significant positive change.”

– Thorsten Heins, BlackBerry CEO

There couldn’t have been any better way for Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) to get back at the critics than with the latest quarter’s performance and a smashing Z10 sales volume. The company is in the middle of a lot of changes, such as change of name, change of image and definitely changes in investors’ perceptions. Analysts, investors, industry experts and people like me (read people who love underdog stories) have been eagerly waiting for the Canadian smartphone maker to come out with its quarter numbers, and the wait is finally over. On Mar. 28, the company reported its fourth quarter and full year 2013 earnings and has got many close followers intrigued. Let’s take a peek into the quarter and its numbers.

Research In Motion Ltd (BBRY)

The quarter and its numbers

Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) took a lot of analysts by surprise by posting a better than expected bottom-line and beating expectations. However, the top-line of the company was slightly below expectations. The Canadian phonemaker reported total revenue of $2.68 billion for the fourth quarter and a quarterly GAAP income of $94 million, or $0.18 per share. After adjusting for pre-tax charges of $29 million related to the CORE program, the net income per share came to $0.22. But, the full year performance was not pleasing at all as the company’s reported total revenue of $11.1 billion (down from $18.4 billion in 2012), and a loss of $646 million.

Q4 2013 (Mn) Q3 2013 (Mn) Q4 2012 (Mn)
GAAP Net Income $ 94 $ 14 $ (118)
GAAP Net Income per share $ 0.18 $ 0.03 $ (0.23)
Adjusted Net Income $ 114
Adjusted Net Income per share $ 0.22

(Source: BlackBerry Press Release, March 28, 2013)

For the fourth quarter, Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY)’s top-line came at $2.68 billion, out of which $1.63 billion (61%) came from the handset business and the remaining was contributed by the software (3%) and service (36%) segments. During the quarter, the company was able to sell as many as 6 million phones, thus resulting in revenue per handset of $272 (thanks to the inclusion of the latest Z10 devices), up sequentially from $237, though sequentially number of handsets sold plunged from 6.6 million. Alongside, the company also shipped 370,000 Playbooks, up from 255,000 Playbooks in the previous quarter. However, BlackBerry’s subscriber base fell to 76 million from 79 million.

The million units baby
When speaking of numbers, there is one more number which deserves special mention – the one million BlackBerry Z10s sold. Though not a very big surprise, yet it’s delightful news for the company and its investors. The figure came at the top end of analyst expectations of 0.3 million to 1.2 million, despite the fact that the number doesn’t include the Z10 sales in the US, since the handset was launched a couple of weeks after the end of the latest quarter. Though a specific number for US is not available, one can imagine how huge the till date sales of the device can actually be, considering the US is a very lucrative market and represents about three fourths of Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY)’s worldwide market.

While major credit assessment bodies had been moving BlackBerry up and down the rating ladder, BlackBerry fans had a hunch that this was coming. For months the smartphone maker had been struggling, facing stern comments from industry experts on how poor a choice it was for the company to not launch Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) in the past holiday season and how the company itself was helping Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) crush it and how it was allowing Nokia Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:NOK) to gain a better hold on the market. Even CEO Thorsten Heins had been highly criticized for some of his decisions. However, now that the latest platform is out and running, many of the critics were forced to change their opinion about the phone maker and its captain. Some have even started wondering why BlackBerry didn’t launch the Q10 (keyboard version of the BB10) alongside the full touch model to make the traditional BB users happy.

The latest on the smartphone space
According to the latest report from Gartner, during the calendar fourth quarter, BlackBerry sold 7.3 million handsets and had a command over just 3.5% of the market, whereas Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s Android continued to be at the top spot with almost 70% market share and Apple came as a distant second with about 21% share. Compared to these biggies, BlackBerry is far behind in the market share race.

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