July 9, 2013 / 4:33 PM / 4 years ago

CEO says BlackBerry on right path, open to all options

3 Min Read

WATERLOO, Ontario July 9 (Reuters) - BlackBerry Ltd is on the right path for a turnaround despite the disappointing debut of its make-or-break line of smartphones, its CEO insisted on Tuesday, allowing that the company remains open to any options that would create value for its investors.

"BlackBerry will pursue every opportunity to create value for shareholders," Chief Executive Thorsten Heins told investors at the company's subdued annual meeting.

After the remark, made while he was speaking about whether the company would look into licensing opportunities, BlackBerry shares added to early gains on the Nasdaq.

Less than two weeks ago, BlackBerry reported results and sales of its new BlackBerry 10 line of smartphones fell short of analysts' expectations in the quarter ended June 1. The results offered little evidence that the company can quickly win back market share from Apple's iPhone, Samsung's Galaxy devices, and other phones powered by Google's Android operating system.

"I think they're on a very short leash" said John Goldsmith, the deputy head of equities at Montrusco Bolton Investments Inc, which owns more than 1.5 million BlackBerry shares.

"I wouldn't be surprised if within the next two quarters there is a definitive announcement with regard to other options that this company could be looking at, whether that's putting itself up for sale or some other option."

Asking for shareholders' patience, Heins said his efforts to revive BlackBerry's fortunes were difficult and far from complete.

"Our transformation is ongoing and in no way easy," he told an auditorium packed with investors in the company's hometown of Waterloo, Ontario. "This is a long-term transition for the company but I can assure you that we are pushing very hard."

The mood at the meeting was decidedly restrained compared with the atmosphere at its launch events earlier this year.

When BlackBerry reported quarterly results in late June, the stock plunged 28 percent, as it forecast another operating loss for the current quarter.

Heins said the company will unveil more devices that run on its all-new BlackBerry 10 operating system over the next eight months. The company has so far released the Z10, its top-on-the-line full-touch smartphone, along with the Q10 and Q5 two phones that come with the mini physical keyboard that many BlackBerry fans favor.

But while many investors and analysts say BlackBerry's new devices are impressive, they fear the company may lack the wherewithal for a drawn-out battle with Apple and Samsung.

Shareholders voted on Tuesday to elect all the company's director nominees to its board. They also approved the company's plan to change its name to BlackBerry Ltd from Research In Motion Ltd, a move that had been announced in January.

The company's shares were up 32 cents at $9.87 in midday trading on the Nasdaq on Tuesday.

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