BlackBerry posts fresh losses, but sees upside

BlackBerry reported fresh losses Friday but offered some reasons for optimism as the smartphone maker struggles to escape from a death spiral.

The Canadian firm reported a loss of $423 million in the fourth quarter of its 2014 fiscal year, as revenues sank.

Revenues fell to $976 million in the fourth quarter -- down from $2.7 billion 12 months earlier. Sales of smartphones fell from 1.9 million to 1.3 million in the fourth quarter, the company said.

"I am very pleased with our progress and execution in the fiscal fourth quarter against the strategy we laid out three months ago," said chief executive John Chen, who took the reins in November as the company sought to revive its fortunes.

"We have significantly streamlined operations, allowing us to reach our expense reduction target one quarter ahead of schedule. BlackBerry is on sounder financial footing today with a path to returning to growth and profitability."

The company said it is targeting "break even cash flow results by the end of fiscal 2015," which began this month.

BlackBerry said it delivered some 3.4 million smartphones in the quarter, but 2.3 million were the older models using its BlackBerry 7 operating system.

Shares in BlackBerry opened with a jump of 5.5 percent at $9.55, as some investors saw signs of a turnaround.

Paul Ausick at 24/7 Wall Street said however that BlackBerry's results "only look good because they're not awful."

Mark Sue at RBC Capital Markets said in a research note that revenues were below estimates but that the company was showing better signs toward profitability and a "mix shift toward services versus hardware."

Analyst Ehud Gelblum at Citi said BlackBerry may be worth more than its current valuation "from a sum-of-parts perspective," suggesting that a breakup or sale is still possible.

"Blackberry has significant cash on hand, and potentially valuable side businesses that may be worth more outside the company, " he said in a research note."

The company last year introduced the BlackBerry 10 operating system in an effort to regain ground lost to rivals such as Apple and others using the Google Android operating system.

In December, BlackBerry unveiled a manufacturing partnership with Taiwan-based Foxconn and a revamped organizational structure. The deal transfers to Foxconn the manufacturer and inventory management and allows BlackBerry to focus on software and services.

The company also announced last year it was slashing some 4,500 jobs, or 40 percent of its workforce, as part of the restructuring.

BlackBerry at one point last year put itself up for sale, but later abandoned hopes of finding a buyer, and instead pegged its future on a $1 billion cash infusion.

The revenue breakdown for the fourth quarter was 37 percent for hardware, 56 percent for services and seven percent for software and other revenue.

The loss for the fiscal year ending March 1 amounted to $5.9 billion, a huge increase from the loss of $646 million a year earlier. Revenues meanwhile slumped nearly 40 percent for the full year to $6.8 billion.

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