July 14, 2024

RIM Profit Falls Below Estimates

Adding to its problems, the company also reduced its outlook for the second time this year, sending its stock sharply lower in after-hours trading.

The company that effectively invented the smartphone market has been battered in its home turf by the Apple iPhone and handsets using Google’s Android operating system.

In addition, its answer to Apple’s enormously popular iPad tablet, the BlackBerry PlayBook, was introduced this spring with software flaws and without several features. And RIM has still not set a release date for BlackBerrys using a new operating system.

Though the company’s co-chief executive, James L. Balsillie, continued to promote the company’s longer-term outlook on Thursday, RIM cut its fiscal year estimates on Thursday. It predicted that it would earn $5.25 to $6 a share, down from its previous forecast of $7.50 a share during the current fiscal year. It also reduced its revenue forecast to $4.2 billion, from $4.8 billion.

RIM also said its profit during the first quarter, which ended May 28, fell 9.6 percent to $695 million, or $1.33 a share, on revenue of $4.9 billion. During the same period last year, it reported a profit of $769 million, or $1.38 a share, on revenue of $4.24 billion.

The disappointing news failed to meet analysts’ estimates and sent RIM’s shares tumbling 14 percent in after-hours trading on Thursday. Its shares closed at $35.33, up 0.45 percent, before the earnings were released.

RIM shipped 13.2 million BlackBerrys during the period, an amount below its own forecast.

It also said earnings per share for the second quarter ending Aug. 27 were expected to be 75 cents to $1.05, lower than analysts’ estimates of $1.40 polled by Bloomberg.

About the only figure that exceeded expectations was the PlayBook. RIM said that it shipped about 500,000 of the tablet computers to retailers and wholesalers during the quarter, compared with an average analysts’ forecast of 366,000.

Nevertheless, the number pales when compared with the 3.27 million iPads Apple sold during the first quarter of that product’s availability. RIM declined to specify how many PlayBooks were actually purchased by retail customers.

RIM, which at one point had been going through such a rapid expansion that it was having difficulty finding space for employees, said that it planned to cut jobs as part of a reorganization but it offered no specifics.

Mr. Balsillie predicted during a conference call with analysts that the company’s fortunes were about to take a turn for the better.

“We have a strong business,” Mr. Balsillie said. “We have made major platform upgrade. We are almost through this transition.”

Some analysts were not as optimistic that the new phones would arrive quickly enough to help.

“People are not waiting. They’re going to other platforms,” Peter Misek, an analyst at Jefferies Company, told Reuters. “I would expect there’s going to be significant layoffs. This is not good.”

Some investors have been calling for Mr. Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, the co-chief executive, to step down to allow new management to take over.

Both men rejected that idea. Mr. Lazaridis said that under the current circumstances “strong, consistent leadership is essential.”

Earlier this year, Mr. Balsillie and Mr. Lazaridis had promoted the PlayBook as the beginning of RIM’s conversion. The tablet computer uses a new operating system and a touch-screen interface that will eventually migrate onto BlackBerry phones.

While reviewers found several merits in the device — unlike the iPad, the PlayBook can play Adobe Flash video — many said the first version contained numerous small software flaws, suggesting that it was rushed to market.

Mr. Balsillie acknowledged on Thursday that “the PlayBook launch did not go as smoothly as we planned.”

To support its stock price, RIM also announced on Thursday that it planned to buy back up to 5 percent of its shares.

Though RIM continues to lose market share in North America, it is experiencing robust overseas growth. The company said that overseas revenue rose 67 percent in the first quarter over the same period a year earlier. Much of its foreign business is based on lower-cost BlackBerry handsets, which produce lower margins for RIM.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=6b423fdfdea3c7f2328a292f33d749c3

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