BlackBerry maker RIM posts major lossBy Guillaume Lavallee
MONTREAL– BlackBerry maker Research In Motion on Thursday posted a quarterly loss — disappointing first results for the firm’s new chief executive, who moved to shake up the struggling company’s top ranks.
The Waterloo, Ontario-based firm reported a net loss of $125 million for its fiscal fourth quarter to March 3, compared with a profit of $418 million a year earlier.
That dragged down the full fiscal 2012 profit to $1.16 billion, down sharply from $3.4 billion a year earlier as RIM battled against Apple’s iPhones and iPads and an onslaught of Android-powered devices.
RIM also said Jim Balsillie, a co-founder and co-chief executive until his resignation in January, would step down from the board, completing his retirement from the company.
In addition to the Balsillie departure, RIM said David Yach will be retiring from his role as chief technology officer and Jim Rowan, chief operating officer for global operations, “has decided to pursue other interests.”
The results provided a rocky start for chief operating officer Thorsten Heins, who was named president and CEO after the resignation of Balsillie and co-CEO Mike Lazaridis following months of investor pressure for a change.
“I have assessed many aspects of RIM’s business during my first 10 weeks as CEO,” Heins said in a statement.
“I have confirmed that the company has substantial strengths that can be further leveraged to improve our financial performance, including RIM’s global network infrastructure, a strong enterprise offering and a large and growing base of more than 77 million subscribers.”
Later, in a conference call with analysts, Heins did not rule out a sale of the company, saying he would be open to hearing purchase offers, and said the group would undertake a “comprehensive review of strategic opportunities.”
Share prices have fallen 80 percent since little more than a year ago, putting market capitalization at about $7 billion — meaning the company is particularly vulnerable.
Shares were down in after-hours trading.
During the past quarter, RIM shipped some 11.1 million BlackBerry smartphones — down 21 percent from the previous quarter — and over 500,000 BlackBerry PlayBook tablets.
Analysts had expected shipments of 11.4 million BlackBerry devices.
Revenues for the period of $4.2 billion were down 25 percent from a year ago and below market expectations.
Heins, who joined RIM from German industrial giant Siemens in 2007 and served as senior vice president for hardware engineering and later as chief operating officer, said he was “excited about the prospects for the BlackBerry 10 platform, which is on track for the latter part of calendar 2012.”
The company has suffered from the costly delay in launching BlackBerry 10, which will use the new QNX operating system, and the commercial failure of the PlayBook.
In a sign of the company’s tough times, it did not publish a financial forecast for upcoming quarters, as it has in the past.
Heins acknowledged that “the business challenges we face over the next several quarters are significant and I am taking the necessary steps to address them.”
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