RIM results look bleak on fourth-quarter loss

RIM will look for "strategic" options following a quarter in which co-CEO Jim Balsillie and two executives resigned from the company and BlackBerry shipments plunged.

RIM reports another quarter with sagging profits and revenue. RIM

Wall Street expected Research In Motion to report weak results, and the beleaguered smartphone vendor didn't disappoint.

The Canadian company today reported a fiscal fourth-quarter loss of $125 million, or 24 cents a share, reversing a year-earlier profit of $934 million, or $1.74 a share. Excluding one-time items, the company reported an adjusted profit of $418 million, or 80 cents a share.

Revenue fell by 25 percent to $4.2 billion.

Analysts, on average, expected the company to post per-share earnings of 81 cents a share on revenue of $4.54 billion, according to an estimate provided by Thomson Reuters.

Most troubling was a massive drop in BlackBerry shipments, which fell nearly 80 percent to 11.1 million in the fourth quarter.

In addition, RIM shook up its leadership team during the quarter, with former co-CEO Jim Balsillie resigning as director. Also leaving are RIM Chief Technology Officer David Yach, and Jim Rowan, chief operating officer of global operations.

It's part of a broader shift in the company's strategy, which includes refocusing on business customers and moving to introduce new products to shore up its only growth area in the emerging markets.

"It's clear to me substantial change is what we need," said RIM CEO Thorstein Heins.

The shakeup and results illustrate the continued struggles RIM faces as it attempts to hold its ship together as its smartphone business is besieged by the likes of Apple and Google. The company hasn't had a new product out since the second half of last year, and has had to make do with a stepped-up marketing effort and heavy discounts on its products.

The hardships aren't expected to end soon; RIM expects its first next-generation BlackBerry, running on a new operating system called BlackBerry 10, to launch in the second half. In the meantime, Apple is preparing a next-generation iPhone, while Samsung Electronics is poised to unveil the next iteration of its own flagship Android smartphone, the Galaxy S.

While the company said the flagship Bold has sold relatively well, it admitted its other products haven't fared well, particularly its touchscreen-only offerings. The company took at $267 million to write off unsold inventory on BlackBerry 7 phones.

Wall Street has been fairly bearish on RIM, with many analysts taking down their estimates ahead of today's report.

Heins remained upbeat, but opened the door to potential deals. The company plans to shed any projects that aren't focused on its core areas of business, security, and its BlackBerry Messenger service, and plans to use partnership to shore up missing features and services.

"We are undertaking a comprehensive review of strategic opportunities including partnerships and joint ventures, licensing, and other ways to leverage RIM's assets and maximize value for our stakeholders," he said in a statement.

The company also stopped giving a financial forecast, citing its current business environment and desire for longer-term "value creation."

Updated at 2:38 p.m. PT: to include comments from executives and additional background.

 

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