BlackBerry Is Not for Sale ‘at This Price,’ CEO Chen Says

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BlackBerry Will Get Phone Business Back On Track: CEO

BlackBerry Ltd. is not for sale, says Chief Executive Officer John Chen -- at least at the current price.

“No. No, no, no, no, no,” Chen said at the company’s annual general meeting in Waterloo, Ontario, when asked if he was thinking about a sale. “Not at this price.”

Chen is a year and a half into remaking the former smartphone giant into a high-security software leader. The stock has risen 36 percent since he took over in November 2013, still nowhere near the highs of 2008 when it traded above $130.

On Tuesday, BlackBerry shares fell 4.2 percent to $8.81 at the close in New York after the company posted a wider-than-anticipated quarterly loss.

“We put in a lot of hard work,” Chen said. “We’re not done yet, not by any stretch of the imagination.”

Chen is now halfway through his turnaround effort, having made three acquisitions to bulk up the company’s software offerings. The next steps are to grow software revenue and make BlackBerry’s smartphone business profitable.

“We’ve got good technology and we know how to use our technology and the acquisitions, the cash and all these things; I think it’s enough ingredients to put up a good fight,” Chen said.

When “the shareholder gets a huge reward on top of that, that’s a reasonable fight,” he said.

The stock surged 30 percent on Jan. 14 when Reuters reported Samsung Electronics Co. had expressed interest in buying BlackBerry for $13.35 to $15.49 dollars a share. It sunk when both companies denied they were in talks.

Share Goal

BlackBerry trades at 146 times earnings, almost five times more expensive than the average stock on the Nasdaq Composite Index, which trades at 31 times earnings, according to data gathered by Bloomberg.

Chen is working toward doubling yearly software revenue to $500 million by March 2016. With $137 million this quarter, he’s on track to hit that target.

Even if he’s successful, Chen said he doesn’t have a timeframe in mind for a sale.

“I have a five-year agreement with the company, I’m in 19 months,” he said.

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