Ina Fried

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RIM Talks to the Street After BlackBerry’s Rough Quarter

After reporting a brutal quarter, slashing forecasts and announcing layoff plans earlier on Thursday, RIM executives will have their chance to explain themselves to Wall Street. AllThingsD will be bringing you live coverage starting at 2 pm PT.

To recap the highlights (or lowlights), RIM said that the weakness it saw last quarter is continuing and chopped its forecast for the year, saying that it now expects to earn only $5.25 to $6.00 per share. At the time of its April earnings warning, the company insisted it could still do $7.50 per share in earnings for the year, though many analysts were highly skeptical.

And, to meet even the lower forecast, RIM plans to cut costs, including an unspecified number of job cuts.

2:01 pm: Still got the hold music. Look, guys, it’s going to a bloodbath. Making the analysts wait won’t calm them down any.

2:02 pm: All participants are in a seethe-only mode.

2:03 pm: Warning about forward-looking statements. (Substitute hope and pray for “believe” and you should be fine.)

2:06 pm: Shortfall last quarter due to lower demand in U.S. amid older product lineup as well as issues in Latin America.

Delays in new products are excluding RIM from some back-to-school promotions it hoped to be part of, further hurting things for the current quarter, which goes through August.

2:07 pm: Interesting note: Both co-CEOs are on the conference call. Usually just Balsillie, who is currently outlining (but not giving specifics) on cost cuts.

2:08 pm: Balsillie on PlayBook tablet: “We were pleased to ship approximately 500,000 units during the quarter.”

Balsillie acknowledged launch didn’t go as smoothly as the company had planned. Talks about update that added video chat and Facebook, but no mention of promised email client.

2:10 pm: FYI, my battery is low, so going to be turning things over to the highly talented John Paczkowski to cover the bulk of the carnage, including the duck-and-cover — I mean question-and-answer period.

2:11 pm: Balsillie talking about media’s concern about the company’s dual-CEO structure. “I believe, and I think Mike would agree, that neither of us could have completed this transition alone.”

He suggests that it is a critical time for RIM and only they are equipped to handle it.

“I agree with Jim’s comments,” co-CEO Mike Lazaridis added. “We know what we have to do jointly to accomplish” what we need to.

“We understand that weathering this transition has been difficult for our shareholders and employees,” he said. “While I can’t promise there won’t be bumps ahead,” Lazaridis said he and Balsillie have never been more committed.

2:14 pm: RIM does things differently, Balsillie said, noting that its reasoning isn’t always obvious to outsiders.

Balsillie said RIM was already well down a development path to the next-generation handsets when it realized it needed to do things differently for North America.

BlackBerry Bold 9900 with touchscreen, announced at BlackBerry World, will be the first BlackBerry 7 handset.

The company hopes once it is approved by carriers other devices will quickly follow.

2:19 pm: “I would like nothing more than to have gotten out these BlackBerry 7 handsets sooner,” says Lazaridis. “But when you see what strong devices they are, you’ll realize it was worth the wait.

2:20 pm: More about how wonderful the new BB7 devices will be, but no further details on release dates. Moving on to the PlayBook, Lazaridis mentions that the tablet will get native email and BBM this summer.

He wraps up with: “We have strong business, we have made a major platform upgrade and we are nearly through that transition.”

2:22 pm: Running through numbers from the earnings release. You’ll find those here.

2:24 pm: After a quick wrap-up from Balsillie, the call moves on to the Q&A …

2:29 pm: One more note from their guidance — they don’t expect BlackBerry 7 devices to contribute until the end of the current quarter.

2:27 pm: Q: What’s you confidence level in the timing of these new product launches? Should we be worried?

Lazaridis: We can never be absolutely certain that we’ll get through certification without any hiccups. But we feel confident about the state of our code. Since our new products are all based on a single platform, once we get one certified we can leverage that across the board with other carriers. … I’m feeling very good about the certification of our products.

2:30 pm: A quick follow-up question about QNX guidance for early 2012. Lazaridis says it hasn’t changed.

2:32 pm: In regards to PlayBook sales, RIM is “very pleased” with sell-through and seeding. No specifics offered, though. Though they’d been promised for the summer, the report is now, “you are going to start seeing the 4G PlayBooks coming out in the fall.”

2:35 pm: Another question about QNX timing. Sounds like you’re rolling it out just months after BB7 hits the market. Does that make sense?

Lazaridis says it does, notes the difference in feature sets, says QNX-based “superphones” with their PlayBook-like features are targeted at the higher end of the market.

2:36 pm: Balsillie wanders off on a meandering rumination about the difference in the public’s perception of RIM and what the company has “hidden under the covers.”

2:40 pm: He hands off to Lazaridis who lauds the PlayBook and seems to be saying that customers disappointed with the PlayBook will be less so in the future because RIM will constantly improve it.

2:42 pm: Q: Will the restructuring impact your ability to launch new products?

Balsillie takes issue with the word “restructuring.” He would rather everyone describe it with the euphemism “streamlining.” And, in answer to the question, no, it won’t.

Also: don’t call it a “re-org,” either.

2:44 pm: Balsillie: “This is just leaning out to reinvest … we don’t want to just be able to do everything just because we can. So I wouldn’t call this a re-org or a restructuring.”

2:46 pm: More from Balsillie: “You know, we’ve just been so busy growing and selling product that I think this is really the right time for us to step back and make the system more efficient.”

2:48 pm: Question about corporate governance and the co-CEO structure. Balsillie obviously loves it. So does Lazaridis.

“This is fun,” says Lazaridis. “We’re changing the world. … Jim and I have the perfect balance to make the hard decisions.”

2:51 pm: Backslapping continues. “We birthed a tablet in a year … we transitioned to a new operating system.”

Meanwhile RIM shares are down 13 percent in after-hours trading.

2:54 pm: Still more backslapping. It’s almost like Lazaridis and Balsillie think they’re doing talk radio instead of an earnings call.

2:57 pm: Translation of last five minutes of call: “You know our new products are just so awesome, aren’t they, Jim? Boy, they sure are, Mike. And you know what? You’re awesome, too.”

3:02 pm: And that’s it. Thanks for joining us.

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