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RIM posts strong results on 7.8M BlackBerry shipments

Revenue was just a hair below analyst expectations but profit was higher than expected, as RIM looks forward into a crowded summer for the smartphone market.

Updated 3:15 p.m. PDT with comments from conference call.

Research In Motion continued to post strong numbers in a bad economy, bypassing expectations for its first fiscal quarter amid sales of 7.8 million BlackBerrys.

The company on Thursday reported revenue of $3.42 billion, essentially in line with analyst estimates of $3.43 billion for the quarter, and up 52 percent from the same quarter last year. Excluding special charges related to the tax liabilities concerning stock options (perhaps this), and a one-time boost from a change in tax rules, net income was $564.4 million, or 98 cents a share. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were looking for 94 cents per share.

RIM added 3.8 million new BlackBerry subscriber accounts during the quarter, just slightly below the 3.9 million new accounts added in the previous quarter. Around 80 percent of those new subscribers were consumers, said Jim Balsillie, RIM's co-CEO, on a conference call following the release of the company's results.

Looking into the current quarter, which has already seen the launch of the Palm Pre and Friday will see the launch of the iPhone 3G S, RIM said it expects revenue between $3.45 billion and $3.7 billion. Earnings per share should fall between 97 cents and $1.03. Analysts were looking for $3.61 billion in revenue and earnings per share of 97 cents.

Balsillie downplayed any notion that either the launch of the Pre or the aggressive $99 pricing on the iPhone 3G would have an impact on RIM's business, noting that RIM has enjoyed aggressive promotions and discounts from its carrier partners, such as Verizon's "Buy One, Get One Free" promotion that will continue in the current quarter.

RIM also plans to launch several products this quarter and over the rest of the year that will carry the company into the holiday season, when buying generally picks up, Balsillie said.