BlackBerry Ltd Earnings Preview: Is Software Really Savior?

BlackBerry Ltd Earnings Preview: Is Software Really Savior?

BlackBerry has a busy two days ahead of it with its annual meeting today and next earnings report due on Thursday before opening bell. Tomorrow’s earnings report could offer hints at whether the company’s handset business will survive the year.

Mixed quarter expected from BlackBerry

Analyst estimates are pretty mixed as much is needed from the smartphone maker to convince Wall Street that things are really turning around. Wall Street is looking for $470 million in revenue and adjusted losses of 8 cents per share.

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RBC Capital Markets analyst Paul Treiber, who has a Sector Perform rating and $8 price target on BlackBerry, is a bit ahead of the consensus at $493 million in revenue and losses of 5 cents per share. He’s expecting a 25% increase in organic software as it’s now been over six months since the company acquired Good Technology. He’s projecting $160 million in software revenue, which is only a slight increase from the previous quarter’s $155 million. He expects about $50 million in revenue came from acquisitions and $22 million to be from patent licensing.

He continues to expect weakness in the handset business with revenue recognized on 700,000 handsets, representing a 36% year over year decline but an increase from 600,000 in the fiscal fourth quarter thanks to the launch of the Priv on Verizon in March and 14 other carriers during the first fiscal quarter. Treiber said his estimates imply that the handset business was still unprofitable during the quarter as breakeven is at 3 million handsets. He believes Blackberry may receive a boost from the mid-range Android phones the company is planning later this year.

BlackBerry price target cut by Imperial

Imperial Capital analyst Michael Kim trimmed his price target for BlackBerry ahead of tomorrow’s earnings report. He cut 50 cents off his target, bringing it to $7 per share, and maintained his In-Line rating. His checks suggested that competition for the Priv remains strong and that interest in its enhanced security features is limited. Additionally, he observed “modest” demand for the older Classic and Passport devices.

As a result, he thinks it will be “substantially challenging” for BlackBerry to reach breakeven in hardware, which management expects to do.

BlackBerry even challenged in software

The company has emphasized that software is the key to its turnaround, but Credit Suisse analyst Kulbinder Garcha is not convinced that there is hope even there. He has an Underperform rating and $6 price target on BlackBerry. He’s projecting $484.5 million in revenue and losses of 9 cents per share.

He’s concerned about the “quality” of some of the acquisitions the struggling company has made in the area of software, like Good Technology, which other analysts think will actually be positive for the turnaround efforts. He believes integrating Good in particular creates “significant” risks. Garcha notes that the decline in services revenues continues to accelerate, and he doubts that the software business is sustainable, calling BlackBerry’s patent licensing revenue “unpredictable.” Interestingly, his software revenue estimate sits at $172 million, which is higher than RBC’s estimate even though RBC seems more positive on BlackBerry’s software prospects.

BlackBerry shares edged higher by 0.57% to $7.09 in early trading at the NASDAQ on Wednesday.

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