BlackBerry Shares Rise After Rosy Comments by CEO

BlackBerry shares rose 6.1 percent after Chief Executive Officer Thorsten Heins told a Spanish newspaper that the company’s new Z10 model has drawn more interest than expected from users of rival smartphones.

“We are receiving a very positive response to BlackBerry 10 from our customers, but it’s also been attractive for customers coming from other platforms,” Heins said in an interview with Expansion. “We are a little surprised by that.”

BlackBerry, formerly known as Research In Motion Ltd. (BB), is rolling out the Z10 country by country -- part of a bid to win back market share lost to Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Samsung Electronics (005930) Co.’s Galaxy. Heins said last month that sales have been above the Waterloo, Ontario-based company’s “ambitious” expectations and production has increased.

The shares climbed to $13.35 at the close in New York, the biggest jump in almost three weeks. BlackBerry’s stock has risen 12 percent this year.

“Operators are supporting us a lot because they want BlackBerry 10 to be an alternative to Samsung and Apple and they’ve seen it’s a real alternative,” Heins said in the Expansion interview.

Mexico Debut

Separately, BlackBerry said today that the Z10 will go on sale in Mexico on March 20 through America Movil SAB (AMXL)’s Telcel unit. While the Z10 will be available in 21 countries by the end of this week -- including Canada, the U.K. and India -- carriers have yet to give a firm release date for the phone in the U.S. BlackBerry also hasn’t given specific dates for the debut of the Q10, a model with a physical keyboard.

Verizon Wireless, the largest U.S. carrier, has said it plans to offer the Z10 at the end of March. T-Mobile USA, meanwhile, has said it’s planning to release the Z10 around the middle of the month.

Heins is counting on Z10 and the Q10 to appeal to BlackBerry’s faithful, as well as new users who appreciate the company’s reputation for security. Apple’s iOS software and Google Inc. (GOOG)’s Android operating system, used by Samsung, together accounted for 91 percent of global smartphone sales in the fourth quarter, according to IDC. BlackBerry dropped to 3.2 percent.

To contact the reporters on this story: Manuel Baigorri in Madrid at mbaigorri@bloomberg.net; Hugo Miller in Toronto at hugomiller@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Nick Turner at nturner7@bloomberg.net; Kenneth Wong at kwong11@bloomberg.net

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