Blackberry losses grow ahead of crunch year for smartphones

Lynsey Barber
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Blackberrys are still popular among some people (Source: Getty)

Blackberry revenue has slumped again as it turns towards software and away from the devices that made it a household name.

The figures

Blackberry's losses climbed to $670m for the first quarter, or $1.28 per share compared to a 10 cents per share loss in the same quarter last year and 15 cents per share on an adjusted basis. That was on adjusted revenue of $424m compared to $658m a year earlier, missing analyst estimates of $471m or seven cents per share.

This reflects multiple impairment charges and writedowns, including a $501m writedown on assets. Excluding these items, profit was $14m, or zero cents per share.

It believes full year earnings will still come in ahead of consensus.

Mobility Solutions, which incudes its smartphones, made an operating loss of $21m, while software and services and Service Access Fees (SAF) made income of $37m and $78m, respectively.

Blackberry shares were up more than five per cent in pre-market trading.

Why it matters

Attempts to make its devices relevant again have not been spactacular and sales numbers for the newest model Priv were not revealed. Chief executive John Chen yesterday said its smartphone business must become profitable by the end of the financial year at its annual general meeting.

What Blackberry said

"Excluding IP licensing, we have more than doubled our software revenue on a year-over-year basis for the second consecutive quarter, driven by our EMM, secure messaging and QNX embedded software businesses. In our Mobility Solutions business, our objective is to achieve operating profitability in the short term," said Chen.

"Our current plan calls for continued investments to expand our addressable markets and drive sustainable profitability and revenue growth. For the full fiscal year, we are on track to deliver 30 percent revenue growth in software and services. Based on a more efficient operating model, we expect a adjusted earnings per share loss of around 15 cents, compared to the current consensus of a 33 cent loss. We also expect to generate positive free cash flow for the full year."

In short

Blackberry is at make or break stage for its device business in the coming months, but figures in the other parts of its business are more positive.

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