BlackBerry stock continued to sink today after surging briefly Tuesday morning following the company’s latest earnings report. On the surface, the struggling Canadian company came out ahead of estimates in some ways, but analysts aren’t ready to write off its transition to a software focus as a success just yet. Most continue to approach BlackBerry with a cautious view.
Will BlackBerry’s software switch take?
MKM Partners Managing Director Michael Genovese said in a note dated Dec. 21 that the company is indeed now a software company. Certainly the formal end of its handset division and the licensing deals for its brand help with this, because it doesn’t even make phones anymore. However, Genovese is still concerned about the firm’s revenue growth and valuation, despite its strong gross margins.
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BlackBerry’s non-GAAP gross margin stood at 69.8% in the third quarter of fiscal 2017. Its non-GAAP earnings per share came in at 2 cents. Both numbers were ahead of the consensus numbers at 60% and losses of 2 cents per share. However, Genovese said that the company missed his revenue estimates in all three of its segments. Because of the revenue misses, he maintained his Neutral rating and $8 per share fair value estimate on BlackBerry stock.
He does feel that it was a good decision to switch to licensing its brand for smartphones rather than making its own phones, but he questions whether anyone will buy BlackBerry phones at all, whether or not they are made by the company itself or by third parties. He sees Automotive and the Internet of Things as possible drivers of growth in the medium to long term.
Not all convinced that the switch is complete
Goldman Sachs analyst Simona Jankowski has a Sell rating and $6 per share price target on BlackBerry stock. She feels that the switch to software is “almost complete,” meaning that the company has not yet successfully completed the pivot. Her even more cautious stance on BlackBerry stock makes sense given that she doesn’t think the switch to software is complete yet. Most other analysts seem to think that it is complete, even if they aren’t ready to give the company the thumbs-up yet.
Jankowski is concerned that BlackBerry missed software and services revenue estimates yet again, coming in at $164 million versus the consensus at $175 million. She noted that this is the second consecutive quarter in which the company missed revenue estimates for its all-important software segment.
BlackBerry management reiterated their outlook for 30% year over year software growth for the full year, but the Goldman Sachs analyst noted that it’s unclear whether they mean 30% growth just for software or 30% growth for the full Software and Services segment. Revenue for the full segment was $172 million in the third quarter. She is still skeptical about whether the company can meet its software growth targets.
Total revenue also missed consensus at $301 million, compared to the Street’s $330 million estimate.
Shares of BlackBerry stock declined by as much as 2.47% to $7.12 on the NASDAQ during regular trading hours on Thursday.