TORONTO – BlackBerry Ltd. shares sank almost 10 per cent to their lowest levels in weeks on Friday, despite beating analysts’ estimates and reporting a solid start to its 2019 financial year.
The company’s stock closed down $1.45 or 9.29 per cent at $14.16 on the Toronto Stock Exchange to put it back to where it was trading in early May.
BlackBerry, which reports in U.S. currency, reported adjusted earnings of three cents per share, beating analysts’ expectations of neutral earnings, while revenue was US$213 million, surpassing expectations of US$208.02 million for the quarter ended May 31, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.
Revenue from software and services was $189 million, up 18 per cent year-over-year, although growth was unevenly distributed between BlackBerry’s three main business units.
BlackBerry’s enterprise software and services business had $79 million of revenue, down 14 per cent from last year, while revenue from licensing intellectual property was up 96 per cent to $63 million. BlackBerry Technology Solutions, which primarily consists of the QNX business, was up 31 per cent at $47 million.
BlackBerry chief executive John Chen said the quarter makes him “feel good” about BlackBerry’s outlook for fiscal 2019, which began March 1, but said he doesn’t want to be overly optimistic about its growth trajectory — which he said would be gradual, not sudden.
“Sometimes, (if) you get overly bullish, you jinx yourself,” Chen said in an interview.
Chen said that BlackBerry expects QNX’s automotive products, which include older infotainment software and newer technology for autonomous vehicles, will ramp up gradually rather than repeat the 31 per cent year-over-year growth rate in this year’s first quarter.
“Honestly speaking, that number was a little higher than I expected,” Chen said after his quarterly call with analysts.
“In this year’s growth number, we start seeing some of the new stuff in addition to infotainment systems. That’s encouraging.”
In addition, he said, the number of vehicles with BlackBerry software has grown to 120 million, from 60 million three years ago, which increases the royalty payments from automakers and other automotive customers.
He said there’s a danger that a long-term disruption in global trade could affect BlackBerry but so far there’s been no evidence it has been affected by the Trump administration’s hard stance against other countries and regions.
Analysts had also estimated a net loss of five cents per share but the loss was more than double that at 11 cents per share, or $60 million, which was up from $10 million or two cents per share in last year’s first quarter.
BlackBerry said this year’s first-quarter net loss included US$28 million related to an adjustment of the fair value of some of its debt and US$22 million related to amortization of acquired intangibles.
There was also US$18 million in stock compensation expense and US$4 million in restructuring charges.
The company, which no longer manufactures smartphones but continues to provide software and branding under licence, announced Friday that it has a new partnership with Bullitt Group, a British smartphone and consumer electronics maker.
Bullitt intends to embed BlackBerry cybersecurity technology into a range of rugged products with the Cat (Caterpillar Inc.) and Land Rover brands, to address the needs of security-conscious consumer and enterprise customers.
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