BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB)’s fourth quarter losses weren’t nearly as bad as expected, but the company missed on revenue. That miss has given some analysts pause, but others are beginning to see a slightly more promising future for the struggling Canadian company—particularly because of signs that BBM is still doing well.
BlackBerry reports solid BBM numbers
On this morning’s earnings call, BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) revealed that its popular messaging app BlackBerry Messenger has continued to grow tremendously. Late last year, the company released it on Android and iOS, which is really starting to look like an excellent decision. BlackBerry said today that they had 115 million users registered on BBM and 85 million monthly active users. In the previous quarter, the company reported about 80 million monthly active users.
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According to BGR, 85 million is a significant number. The site reports that it means BBM is about 20% more users than the amount Tango, a competing messenger app, had when it received a $1 billion valuation from Alibaba. In other words, BBM alone could be worth more than $1 billion, making it one of BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB)’s more valuable assets, particularly if it keeps growing and can determine how to make money from its user base on iOS and Android.
Some surprised at Wall Street’s reaction
In a report dated March 28, 2014, Evercore analysts Mark McKechnie and Zachary Amsel say they don’t understand why shares of BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) rose on today’s earnings report. They suggest that maybe “bulls like ‘kitchen sink’ results.” They say other possibilities could be how BlackBerry has managed to gain significant control over its operating expenditures or the fact that the losses weren’t nearly as bad as most were expecting.
Another bright area in BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB)’s results was the gross margin, which was 43.1%, compared to their estimate of 37.1% Operating expenditures were $577 million, compared to their expectations of $740 million.
Others shifting positive on BlackBerry
Since coming to BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) in November, CEO John Chen has made significant progress in turning the company around. Traditionally, BlackBerry’s smaller division was software and services, but he sees this as being the company’s future rather than handsets, where it has failed. Adoption of the newer BlackBerry 10 handsets remains low as the greatest majority of the handsets sold during the fourth quarter were BlackBerry 7 handsets.
On the earnings call today, Chen also said he’s looking toward BBM as a future source of revenue growth. He also sees BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB)’s QNX software, which is used in industrial settings and cars, as another opportunity.
BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) also reported that BBM now has about half a million theme-oriented channels, some of which are linked to big names like Time and Rolling Stone. Chen said on the earnings call today that he’s developing ways to monetize these channels while also working on creating an even more secure BBM version which financial services clients and others could use.