BlackBerry narrows loss, but Wall Street had expected a profit

BlackBerry reports some sequential improvement in sales, but warns that it would post another loss in the current quarter. The company shipped 6.8 million smartphones in its fiscal first quarter.

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BlackBerry's Z10
BlackBerry's Z10. Josh Miller/CNET

BlackBerry may have shown a bit of progress in sales of its new smartphones, but its loss left many industry watchers surprised and disappointed.

The Waterloo, Ontario, company on Friday posted a loss of $84 million, or 16 cents a share, in its fiscal first quarter, which ended June 1. That was narrower than the loss of $518 million, or 99 cents a share, from a year ago. Excluding one-time items, the company lost $67 million, or 13 cents a share. Revenue rose 9 percent to $3.1 billion.

Analysts, on average, expected BlackBerry to post revenue of $3.36 billion and earnings of 6 cents a share.

The company sold 6.8 million BlackBerrys, but didn't break out how many were BlackBerry 10 devices.

BlackBerry continues to pull itself back from the brink as it expands its lineup of BlackBerry 10-powered smartphones and attempts to reinvigorate sales and profits. The company, however, still faces tremendous challenges in the form of deep-pocketed rivals and several other competitors looking for their own comeback story. While the company has excited the hardcore BlackBerry faithful, it's still unclear whether other consumers are so keen on coming back.

"Consumer interest appears to be waning and adoption in the enterprise is only partial and slow," Sanford Bernstein analyst Pierre Ferragu said in a research note published Wednesday.

BlackBerry warned that the competitive environment remains challenging and said it will post another loss in the current quarter. CEO Thorsten Heins said in a statement that the company plans to increase its investment to support the rollout of new products and services.

The company's shares fell nearly 16 percent to $12.20 in pre-market trading.

In May, BlackBerry unveiled the low-end BlackBerry Q5, which sits alongside the all-touchscreen Z10 and the keyboard-packing Q10. CNET reported that the company is planning a high-end all-touchscreen BlackBerry called the A10.

BlackBerry smartphone sales rose 13 percent from its fiscal fourth quarter but fell 13 percent from a year ago, which is before it had launched its first BlackBerry 10 phone. The new results are significant because they represent the first full quarter of sales from the Z10, which was BlackBerry's debut smartphone for its next-generation platform. BlackBerry didn't make it clear where the sales were coming from, with its older BlackBerry devices still selling in emerging markets.

Industry observers, however, believe the Q10 -- which looks more like the traditional BlackBerry -- would serve as the real catalyst. While the Q10 has been out in several markets for a few weeks, it just arrived in the U.S. earlier this month.

BlackBerry also didn't disclose its subscriber base, which had been falling over the last few quarters.

The company also shipped 100,000 PlayBook tablets.

CNET will be on BlackBerry's quarterly conference call, so check back for the details.