Ina Fried

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RIM Earnings Top Estimates (But Will the Street be Impressed?)

Research In Motion posted earnings on Thursday that topped analysts’ estimates, though revenue was generally as expected.

The BlackBerry maker said it earned $911 million, or $1.74 per share, on revenue of $5.5 billion.

On average, analysts had said to expect around $5.4 billion in revenue and earnings around $1.64 or $1.65 a share.

However, shares of RIM initially slipped more than a dollar after the report, but then rebounded to levels above where they ended regular trading. Shares changed hands recently at $61.15, up $1.91, or more than 3 percent.

Looking forward, RIM said it expects revenue for the current quarter, which runs through February, to be between $5.5 billion and $5.7 billion, with similar margins to the just-ended quarter. Earnings are seen in the range of $1.74 to $1.80 per share.

The report and conference call are being closely watched, both because of all the competitive challenges facing RIM as well as the fact this is the last quarter the company plans to give out certain financial information.

For the just-ended quarter, RIM said it shipped 14.2 million BlackBerrys, up 40 percent from a year earlier. It said it added approximately 5.1 million net new subscribers in the quarter, bringing its base to more than 55 million. Both figures are among those RIM plans to stop sharing after this quarter.

The company also said that one of its directors, Jim Estill, has resigned “due to a business conflict” after 13 years on the board. Co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis will serve as co-chairmen with John Richardson remaining as lead independent director.

RIM’s conference call starts at 2 pm PT and Mobilized will have live coverage. One thing to watch will be whether the company expects an impact at Verizon from the expected arrival of the iPhone. Motorola warned last week that it expects to see its shipments to Verizon take a hit.

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