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RIM Earnings, Sales Fall Short as BlackBerry Demand Wanes

A Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM) Blackberry 9900 smartphone at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Feb. 27, 2012. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
A Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM) Blackberry 9900 smartphone at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Feb. 27, 2012. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

March 29 (Bloomberg) -- Research In Motion Ltd. reported revenue and profit that fell short of analysts’ estimates and said it will discontinue giving financial forecasts as demand for BlackBerry smartphones wanes.

Fourth-quarter earnings excluding one-time items fell to 80 cents a share and sales dropped 25 percent to $4.19 billion, the Waterloo, Ontario-based company said today in a statement. Analysts predicted earnings of 81 cents and sales of $4.51 billion, the average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg. RIM also said Jim Balsillie, its former co-chief executive officer, has resigned from the board.

CEO Thorsten Heins, who took the top job in January, is trying to turn around a company which has lost market share to Android devices and Apple Inc.’s iPhone because of aging technology, marketing gaffes and product delays. While he has vowed to persuade more consumers to snap up new Bold, Curve and Torch models that offer better touch-screen navigation and Web browsing, that isn’t yet happening, said Michael Walkley, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity in Minneapolis.

“The iPhone, Android smartphones and new Windows smartphones have extended the feature and functionality gap” over BlackBerry 7 devices, which are struggling with “weak sell-through,” Walkley, who recommends holding RIM shares, said before the report.

While the BlackBerry outsells the iPhone in Latin America and the Middle East, plummeting U.S. sales meant that RIM’s share of the global smartphone market slid to 8.2 percent in the fourth quarter from 14 percent a year earlier, according to research firm IDC. Apple’s share in that period rose to 24 percent from 16 percent.

RIM rose 0.4 percent to $13.73 at the close in New York. The stock tumbled 75 percent last year and has dropped 5.3 percent this year.

Net loss last quarter was $125 million, or 24 cents a share, compared with a profit of $934 million, or $1.78, a year earlier.

BlackBerry shipments fell to 11.1 million last quarter, RIM said. Shaw Wu, an analyst at Sterne, Agee & Leach Inc., estimated 11.3 million.

(RIM will hold a conference call at 5 p.m. New York time to discuss the results. Go to {LIVE <GO>} to listen.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Hugo Miller in Toronto at hugomiller@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ville Heiskanen at vheiskanen@bloomberg.net

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