Shares of BlackBerry are up 4.5% today as the CEO John Chen makes statement that he believes the former mobile phone all-star company will be able to return to sustainable profitability by the time 2016 comes around. Chen backed up his thesis by saying that the relatively new Passport phone, combined with a “classic” BlackBerry phone that originally helped put the company on the map so many years ago, should help make that leap back to profits.
BlackBerry will be able to return to profit in 2016
Investors obviously are bullish on the news, as can be determined by the price action, but analysts still maintain some skepticism. Michael Genovese, analyst at MKM Partners, has stated that his firm’s outlook on BlackBerry is bullish and does agree with Chen that BlackBerry will be able to return to profit in 2016, however, Genovese does not share the same enthusiasm as Chen on the potential success of the Passport or the Classic model. “We just do not see the Passport or Classic as the blockbuster products the company needs,” says Genovese MKM Partners has a neutral rating and a price target of $10 for BlackBerry.
J. P. Morgan’s Rod Hall maintained a similar skeptical stance on the company and its outlook. J. P. Morgan has a neutral rating on BlackBerry shares and cut its price target from $13 to $10. The investment bank also cut revenue growth targets for 2015 and 2015 by 9.4% and 9.9%, respectively.
John Chen to create a new platform
With analysts’ backlash in full effect, CEO Chen took the opportunity to set the record straight on an analyst call last Friday, in which, Chen explained the company’s plans to create a new platform, dubbed “Internet of Things”. Additionally, Chen said the new platform will have further unveiling at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.
Ultimately, I share similar opinions to the analysts that have covered and commented on BlackBerry’s latest new products. I think it is a bit of a mistake to reintroduce a Classic model, because it is dated and people have clearly moved on from BlackBerry in favor of Apple Inc. and Google Inc. hardware. Sticking to corporate cliental and enterprise solutions is probably the better call here. If BlackBerry needs further evidence of how competitive the mobile phone wars are, just ask Amazon.com, Inc. who has struggled to sell its Amazon Fire phone. I think BlackBerry could return to profitability by 2016, but I think the sustainability lies in focusing on corporate solutions, instead of consumer solutions, which is extremely competitive. Management has done a good job at slimming down and cutting costs, but I think there needs to be a more focused approach and business model that does not set BlackBerry up for failure once again.