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BlackBerry CEO: 'We will survive as a company'

The company made it through the toughest phase of its turnaround plan and now hopes to actually grow again, says John Chen, who is marking his one-year anniversary at the helm.

BlackBerry CEO John Chen Brian Bennett/CNET

BlackBerry has survived some of its toughest times and now wants to "start looking at growth," according to its CEO.

John Chen, who became the smartphone maker's CEO last November, is touting the success of phase one of the company's two-year turnaround plan with cost cuts and asset sales, Reuters reported Sunday. At this point, Chen is expressing confidence in phase two, namely turning a profit.

"We will survive as a company, and now I am rather confident," Chen told Reuters. "We're managing the supply chain, we are managing inventories, we are managing cash, and we have expenses now at a number that is very manageable. BlackBerry has survived; now we have to start looking at growth."

For its second fiscal quarter that ended in August, BlackBerry was hit by another loss, but one that was lower than expected. Overall revenue was down, but the company did report a profit from its handset business, albeit on an adjusted basis, for the first time in five quarters, Reuters said.

BlackBerry now aims to break even on a cash flow basis by the end of its fiscal year and even turn a profit, excluding items, in fiscal 2016, which begins in March.

Toward that end, BlackBerry this week will unveil BES12, the latest version of its mobile-device management software for enterprise customers, and next month will introduce its new BlackBerry Classic smartphone. Orders for the squat BlackBerry Passport phone got off to a promising start and have since increased, the CEO said.

Analysts cited by Reuters applauded Chen's ability to revive the company. But in a highly competitive mobile market, BlackBerry still faces severe challenges, such as how many phones it can actually sell and how many businesses will be willing to pay for its software.

Chen said that BlackBerry is "reasonably comfortable" it can keep making money from its handset trade. On the agenda for 2015 are "at least one radically new device" and updates to the Passport, Classic and Z3 smartphones.

"Once we turn this company to profitability again, I will do everything I can to never lose money ever again," Chen told Reuters. "That is definitely something I am very focused on doing."

A BlackBerry representative told CNET he couldn't immediately confirm Chen's comments.

Updated at 4:40 a.m. PT November 11 with BlackBerry's response.