TORONTO – BlackBerry (TSX:BB) rose to a profit in its fourth quarter as the smartphone maker reported the first glimpse of how its latest touchscreen smartphone is being received by customers.
But the results also showed its loyal subscriber base is waning.
The Waterloo, Ont.-based company reported a profit of US$98 million or 19 cents per share for quarter ended March 2, compared with $125 million or 24 cents per share loss a year ago.
The results surprised analysts who according to Thomson Reuters were expecting on average a loss of 29 cents per share from the company, which spent much of the quarter rolling out its new BlackBerry Z10 smartphone.
“We have implemented numerous changes at BlackBerry over the past year and those changes have resulted in the company returning to profitability in the fourth quarter,” said president and CEO Thorsten Heins in a release.
The company shipped about one million smartphones on its new BlackBerry 10 operating system in the period, it said. That would include devices sent to retail outlets that landed in customers hands, or also have yet to be sold.
The results were the first time BlackBerry provided details on how many of its new devices were shipped in regions like Canada and the U.K., though the total does not include U.S. shipments.
Meanwhile, the company’s longtime subscriber base, which had been growing until the third quarter, dropped to 76 million from 79 million, a sign that more people ditched their older Blackberry models in favour of competitor phones.
Revenue increased to $2.68 billion, coming in below expectations of $2.84 billion, according to a poll by Thomson Reuters.
Shares of the company briefly climbed higher in pre-market trading before sliding 22 cents to $14.35 at 7:50 a.m. ET in New York.
The company also announced that co-founder Mike Lazaridis will retire as vice-chairman and director on May 1.
BlackBerry said it also expects to reach “breakeven” results in the first quarter of its current financial year based on lower costs, a more efficient supply chain and improved hardware margins.
The company will also boost its marketing spending in the fiscal first quarter to support the launch of its new smartphones and rollout in various international markets. Marketing spending will increase by 50 per cent, it said.