BlackBerry’s Q4: A Preview of Coming Attractions
BlackBerry, the company formerly known as Research In Motion, will post financials for its fourth fiscal quarter before the opening bell Thursday. But they’ll only offer a first glimpse into the company’s efforts to get financially back on track.
The quarter — which ended on March 2 — includes just a few weeks of sales of the Z10, which debuted in the U.K. on Jan. 31 before gradually rolling out to other markets. It doesn’t include U.S. sales at all — those began just last week. So for BlackBerry, the real moment of truth will come in Q1, when the company has a full quarter of Z10 sales data to report. Today’s earnings are just a trailer for a movie that hasn’t yet settled on a story line. Could be a “Rocky”-esque comeback story. Could be a “Poseidon Adventure”-style disaster film. We’re not likely to know which for some time.
So what to expect from today’s earnings? Analysts have been forecasting a loss of 29 cents per share on revenue of $2.8 billion, according to consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters. They’re looking for total handset shipments in the range of 6.5 million to 7 million units. And, according to a compilation of forecasts from MarketWatch, they’re expecting BlackBerry to announce shipments of a little more than 1 million Z10s. Not unreasonable considering initial pent-up demand from the BlackBerry faithful.
There are a few wildcards to keep track of here, though. BlackBerry’s total handset shipments may have suffered a bit because of customers postponing their purchases in anticipation of the Z10. And then there’s the company’s subscriber base. BlackBerry lost one million subscribers last quarter. It’s entirely possible that it has suffered further erosion during this one.
But that’s to be expected. BlackBerry is a company navigating a difficult transition. That said, a decent Blackberry 10 debut in the fourth quarter may well set the company up for a profitable first quarter.
So, “Rocky” or “The Poseidon Adventure”? We’ll get our first hint tomorrow morning.