BlackBerry’s (BBRY) fiscal Q3 2014 results were expected to be ugly and in that regard the company didn’t disappoint, posting a whopping $4.4 billion year-over-year loss, or $8.37 per share, on a 56 percent revenue slide to $1.2 billion.
The company attributed most of the drop-off to $4.6 billion in non-cash, pre-tax writedowns to its long-lived assets, inventory and supply commitments, restructuring program and strategic review process. Excluding the writedowns, BlackBerry’s adjusted loss from continuing operations for Q3 was $354 million, or 67 cents per share diluted. The mobile device maker ended the quarter with $3.2 billion in cash, up from the $2.6 billion in had stashed at the end of Q2.
Perhaps central among BlackBerry’s most troubling results for the quarter was an inability to sell its new smartphones—it sold only 1.9 million handsets in the period, a 49 percent fall from Q2, and most of those were BlackBerry 7 devices.
Overall, including prior shipments, some 4.3 million BlackBerry smartphones ended up in the hands of customers during the period, and 3.2 million, or 75 percent, of them were BlackBerry 7s. Hardware accounted for about 40 percent of BlackBerry’s revenue for the quarter, with services responsible for 53 percent and software the remaining 7 percent.
BlackBerry boss John Chen acknowledged the device manufacturer’s difficulties in moving hardware.
“While our Enterprise Services, Messaging and QNX Embedded businesses are already well-positioned to compete in their markets, the most immediate challenge for the company is how to transition the Devices operations to a more profitable business model,” he said.
In assessing BlackBerry’s tottering position, Chen, who already has put his own stamp on a company turnaround, sweeping out a number of top executives and restructuring operations, debunked any notion of the vendor caving in.
“We’re no longer worrying about whether we’re going to be around,” he said on an analysts’ conference call. “We’re ready to fight back.”
Still, BlackBerry didn’t provide much in the way of detailed guidance for Q4. The company only said it anticipates holding its cash position, and continuing to lower operating expenses by keeping costs down.
A Restructuring and Some Positives
There are some positive signs to support Chen’s optimism. In restructuring the company into four divisions—enterprise services, messaging, QNX embedded systems and devices—Chen made it clear that abandoning hardware isn’t in his thinking but making the business model more efficient is top of mind.
Along those lines, BlackBerry said it has inked a five-year deal with Taiwanese manufacturing giant Foxconn to jointly develop and build some new BlackBerry devices aimed at growth markets such as Indonesia. Officials believe the deal will enable BlackBerry to mine the entry-level point of the market in emerging geos, yet concentrate on higher-margin segments of its business such as security, software development and associated smartphone sales to large businesses.
In addition, BlackBerry said it has signed 40 million new users to its BlackBerry Messenger service (BBM) since launching iOS and Android versions; along those lines, the vendor said it has a new deal with LG for BBM to come preinstalled on the LG G Pro Lite, a unit aimed mainly at cost-conscious emerging markets.
And, BlackBerry plans to roll out new automotive and cloud services technology from its QNX software division at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas next month.
New Executive Hires
Much has been made of Chen’s executive housecleaning. Now, he has hired two new executives—one for strategic planning and another for marketing—adding to the appointment earlier this week of John Sims as BlackBerry’s new Global Enterprise Services president.
John Mackey, an ex-SAP (SAP) corporate development head, is BlackBerry’s new Corporate Development and Strategic Planning executive vice president. And, Mark Wilson, formerly Avaya’s chief marketing officer, is the company’s new Marketing senior vice president.
“Jim and Mark are important appointments for BlackBerry as they bring extensive experience and add the necessary leadership and depth that will help us drive our transformation,” Chen said. “I have worked extensively with both of them in the past, have the utmost respect for their experience and accomplishments, and we have developed close and trusted relationships with each other that will enable us to cohesively manage the changes required to reshape BlackBerry.”