RIM earnings surge during fourth quarter

BlackBerry is feeling strong about its business going into the next quarter despite economic concerns and a more business-friendly iPhone.

Research in Motion's BlackBerry business is chugging along, and the company has the money to prove it.

RIM reported fourth-quarter earnings Wednesday after the close of the stock market, and the numbers were good. The company took in $1.9 billion in revenue, more than double last year's fourth-quarter haul of $930.4 million. And it had $412.5 million left over in profits, equal to 72 cents a share in earnings and two cents better than what Wall Street analysts were expecting.

With phones like the BlackBerry Curve, more and more consumers are becoming RIM customers. RIM

The company shipped 4.4 million smartphones during the quarter, and 14 million for the year. Many of those phones were sold to new customers, as RIM added 2.8 million subscribers to the BlackBerry service during the quarter.

Those numbers will surely come up again when Apple reports first-quarter iPhone shipment totals later this month. This will be a trend worth watching in the second half of the calendar year, whether Apple's decision to add business-friendly features to the iPhone starts to make a dent in RIM's sales.

However, Jim Balsillie, co-CEO of RIM, noted on a conference call that RIM is starting to develop more of a following among consumers, expanding beyond its typical business users. He pointed out that 1 million Facebook users have downloaded a BlackBerry application that lets them access their profiles through their devices.

RIM is confident about the next quarter: it delivered guidance above and beyond what Wall Street was expecting. The company predicted revenue to fall between $2.23 billion to $2.3 billion and earnings per share of between 82 cents to 86 cents. Financial analysts were expecting revenue of $2 billion and earnings per share of 76 cents.

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