BlackBerry on the rebound?

Sunday, September 30, 2012    

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NEW YORK (AFP) — BlackBerry maker Research in Motion's stock rallied sharply Friday a day after reporting a narrower-than-expected loss, as analysts debated whether the smartphone maker is poised for a rebound.

RIM, whose shares hit multi-year lows earlier this year, climbed 5.05 per cent to end at US$7.50, after paring some early gains. Still, the stock remains a far cry from 2008 highs above US$140.

The Canadian firm said Thursday it lost US$235 million in the past quarter, its third consecutive loss, although not as bad as analysts had forecast.

Despite the jump in RIM's share price, many analysts remained sceptical on the prospects for RIM, which has delayed until next year its new BlackBerry 10 platform, which aims to compete against the Apple iPhone and devices using Google's Android system.

"RIM has received positive feedback from carriers; however, we believe this new launch will need to be an absolute home run for RIM to stay in the game," said Brian White at Topeka Capital Markets.

Daniel Ernst at Hudson Square Research said the modest rise in the number of RIM subscribers was positive. "We continue to believe it's too late for BB10, and that a strategic sale is a better long-term option than independence," he added.

Ehud Gelblum at Morgan Stanley said RIM "appears to be driving (subscribers) by selling devices below cost," and added that this "shrinks the pool of potential BB10 'upgraders.'"

Thorsten Heins, president and chief executive of the Ontario-based firm, said Thursday that the BlackBerry 10 platform "is on track to launch in the first calendar quarter of 2013".

Heins told CNBC television on Friday that "there are many more steps to come until we launch BlackBerry 10, and then I think that the market will be very excited by what BB 10 has to show and what it will deliver to its customers."

He added that the new phones would offer "a fantastic keyboard experience" with the traditional physical keyboard and that another model would have a full touchscreen.

BlackBerry 10 had been set to launch in late 2012, but RIM announced a delay earlier this year that prompted grim predictions for the company.

RIM said revenues in the fiscal second quarter rose two per cent from the prior quarter to US$2.9 billion, a figure some 31 per cent lower than a year earlier.

RIM said it shipped 7.4 million BlackBerry smartphones in the period and 130,000 BlackBerry PlayBook tablets.

The company's global subscriber base rose to 80 million and the company's cash position edged up to US$2.3 billion.



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