Investors have been calling for a great turnaround for years, but still, BlackBerry Ltd. (TSX:BB)(NASDAQ:BBRY) remains in a quagmire.
Its smartphones command less than 1% of the global market, and its software division, which is promising, is so small that it can hardly be compared to the BlackBerry of old. The average Wall Street analyst believes that the company will lose money this year, in 2017, and in 2018.
The biggest drain on earnings has been BlackBerry’s hardware segment—a failing business that is sucking up over 65% of BlackBerry’s research and development expenses. The handset division sold 500,000 phones last quarter, nearly 100,000 fewer than the quarter before. In the mid-2000s, the company was selling millions of phones every few months.
Investors have long known that by ditching a money-losing segment which is a significant drag on cash flows, BlackBerry could stage a turnaround in a matter of months, not years.
Last week, investors got some encouraging news.
Finally, an end to the madness
BlackBerry’s CEO John Chen also knows that hardware isn’t a long-term answer. “I personally do not believe devices are going to be the future of any company,” he said.
He has also previously said that he would make a decision in September about whether or not it made sense to stay in the smartphone business. A decision still hasn’t been made, but it’s September at last, and some cursory data suggests that hardware is winding down.
Curiously, BlackBerry just began a large sale on its own site (40% off all accessories). The sale is spread across all products, including cases, batteries, chargers, audio items, etc. The sale ends on September 27, which just happens to be the day before BlackBerry’s second-quarter earnings release.
Other reports also suggest that BlackBerry is ditching hardware.
In July, it discontinued production of its Classic cellphone model. Other outlets also reported that BlackBerry has told major U.S. carriers like Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T Inc. that all devices running BlackBerry 10 will be discontinued.
Last month, BlackBerry released “the world’s most secure Android smartphone” in an attempt to fight off the success of Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone, which has stolen many of its contracts. For example, a few years ago 17,600 users in U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement were switched from BlackBerry devices to Apple’s iPhone after it was determined that Apple could better meet the department’s security requirements.
Weeks after its launch, the new phone model is already being discounted across multiple retailers.
According to The Globe and Mail, BlackBerry is finally starting to “shift its focus further away from its money-losing handset business and toward its software.” A true turnaround could finally be here.
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