BlackBerry Ltd Earnings Preview: In-Line Q3 Expected

BlackBerry Ltd Earnings Preview: In-Line Q3 Expected

BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) is scheduled to release the earnings results from its third fiscal quarter on Friday. Analysts are generally expecting another quarter of transition with very few, if any surprises.

Expected trends in BlackBerry’s earnings report

Trefis analysts expect to see BlackBerry’s service revenues continue to slump as the number of subscribers continues to fall. The company has reported service fees fall 10% to 15% in each of the last several quarters. BlackBerry management has said service revenue will likely be cut in half to approximately $850 million by the 2016 fiscal year.

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Toward the end of the quarter, BlackBerry also launched BES 12, which was aimed at fixing the problems created with BES 10. The new version enables enterprise customers to manage non-BlackBerry devices in addition to older BlackBerry 7 devices, all on one infrastructure.

The company began offering its EZ Pass program earlier this year, which enabled BES 10 users to upgrade to BES 12 free. Currently, BlackBerry doesn’t see revenue from EZ Pass users, but it hopes to convert these users into paying customers by charging for tech support and encouraging them to upgrade.

Trefis analysts think EZ Pass could start adding to BlackBerry’s revenues starting in the fourth fiscal quarter of 2015 because they will have to begin paying for support on Feb. 1. In Friday’s earnings report, they’re interested in seeing how many EZ Pass licenses BlackBerry has issued and also the number of enterprise customers that switched to BES 12 from competing platforms.

During the quarter, BlackBerry also launched its square-shaped Passport smartphone, which is designed for productivity. So far, it has gotten rave reviews, and early demand was strong, as the company quickly sold all of the 200,000 units it had ordered. Trefis analysts think the Passport’s launch, as well as the company’s other restructuring initiatives, should have a positive impact on the earnings results scheduled to be released on Friday.

In-line Q3 expected, possible Q4 upside

Goldman Sachs analysts remain Neutral-rated on BlackBerry, although they see potential upside for the Canadian smartphone maker going forward. In a recent report, they said they expect BlackBerry to keep posting losses in through the 2016 fiscal year, although management has said they expect to post positive earnings per share in the year.

For the most recently completed quarter, Goldman Sachs expects revenue to fall 21% year over year to $938 million, which would be a 2% sequential increase. This is in line with the consensus estimate and would be a “less significant decline” compared to the last five quarters. The Goldman Sachs team said easier comparisons and a “moderating channel inventory drawdown” should help.

They expect hardware revenues to rise slightly year over year and legacy services revenue to decline by approximately 40%. They’re looking for losses of 4 cents per share, compared to Wall Street’s estimate of 5 cents per share in losses. They’re expecting a gross margin of 45.2%.

Short squeeze possible in BlackBerry this week

Shares of BlackBerry rallied today, rising more than 4% ahead of Friday’s earnings report and the launch of the new Classic smartphone. Goldman Sachs analysts said they believe a short squeeze may be in process due to today’s launch of the BlackBerry classic and also Friday’s scheduled earnings call. Short interest had increased to 21% of the company’s outstanding shares.

As a result of the launch of the Classic phone, they think there could be upside to BlackBerry’s current quarter. They expect there to be a “meaningful increase” in volumes and average selling prices due to the launch. For the current quarter, they’re projecting revenue of $1.054 billion and flat earnings. Those numbers compare to the consensus estimates of $939 million in revenue and losses of 6 cents per share for the fourth fiscal quarter.

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