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BlackBerry Beats Expectations and Makes Progress on Turnaround

A lower than expected loss gooses their stock price, but that required cutting half their operating expenses.

Ina Fried

BlackBerry reported a lower than expected loss, sending shares of the struggling smartphone maker 2.5 percent higher in morning trading.

The Waterloo, Ontario, company reported a fourth-quarter loss of $423 million as the company sought to underscore its progress in mounting a turnaround. Excluding one-time items, the company reported a loss of eight cents a share. Wall Street analysts anticipated a 55-cent loss in the quarter.

BlackBerry reported revenue of $976 million for the quarter ended March 1, down a staggering 64 percent from $2.7 billion in the same period a year ago. The company’s losses of 80 cents a share were below its modest profit from a year earlier, but an improvement over the dramatic losses of $4.4 billion, or $8.37 per share, from the prior quarter.

Chief Executive John Chen talked about his efforts to streamline operations at the Canadian company, in the hope of restoring it to profitability in fiscal 2016. He said the company cut its operating expenses in half, compared to its first quarter, slowed the rate at which it used its cash and reduced inventory by 30 percent.

Meanwhile, businesses are responding positively to the BlackBerry Enterprise Service 12 platform of hardware and software for managing mobile communications introduced last month at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. He said it adds support for Windows Phone 8 to a platform that also supports Apple’s iOS devices and Android phones powered by Google’s software, as well as the BlackBerry 10.

“We had over 100,000 hits on our landing site,” Chen said. “All in all, I’m very pleased the company is back in execution mode.”

During the fourth quarter, about 3.4 million BlackBerry smartphones were sold. About 2.3 million were BlackBerry 7 devices.

Chen said BlackBerry is pushing into global markets, with the planned introduction of Z3, the phone codenamed Jakarta, in Indonesia — a phone priced at under $200. The company plans to expand further in Southeast Asia.

BlackBerry similarly has its eyes on the road; the QNX operating system that powers the BlackBerry 10 is used by such automakers as Ford Motor Co. and German luxury brand BMW.

“We already have about half of the cars out there,” Chen said. “The majority of the connected cars will be compatible with QNX.”

Shares of Blackberry rose 3.31 percent to $9.35 on Nasdaq in morning trading.

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