BlackBerry confirms deep loss and revenue drop

Fri Sep 27, 2013 6:46pm EDT
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By Alastair Sharp and Allison Martell

TORONTO (Reuters) - BlackBerry Ltd reported a quarterly loss of nearly $1 billion on Friday, in line with a warning it gave last week, just days after the smartphone maker accepted its largest shareholder's tentative $4.7 billion bid to take it private.

The report showed Blackberry turned in a particularly limp performance in Latin America, a region it recently touted as a enthusiastic supporter of its devices.

The company, which warned on September 20 that the poor results were coming, said its net loss for the second quarter, ended on August 31, was $965 million, or $1.84 a share.

Revenue fell 45 percent from a year earlier to $1.6 billion, and BlackBerry's cash pile - made up of cash and equivalents, short and long-term investments - fell by more than $500 million to $2.57 billion.

Its shares were little changed by early afternoon. Investors absorbed the shock of the drastic revenue decline last Friday, when a pre-announcement about the dismal results slashed 17 percent from the Canadian company's market value.

The loss included a writedown of about $934 million for unsold Z10 phones, a touchscreen model that the company had hoped would reverse its fading fortunes. The phone has sold badly with businesses and consumers alike.

"This write-off is very real," said Morningstar analyst Brian Colello. "They bought a lot of inventory hoping to sell it. The auditors were not convinced that BlackBerry can sell it or sell it at prices that the company was hoping for. We see no reason to be more optimistic than them."

The sharpest decline in BlackBerry's sales came in Latin America. After four quarters of revenues of around half a billion dollars in that region, sales sank to $196 million. In previous quarters BlackBerry had said Venezuela was a strong market. The company does not provide sales data beyond the regional view.   Continued...

Passers-by walk in front of a BlackBerry service centre in Jakarta September 25, 2013. REUTERS/Beawiharta