BlackBerry Ltd (BBRY): The ‘For Sale’ Sign Could Torpedo What’s Left

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BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) is apparently trying to get a sale done sooner rather than later, but that may not happen. In fact, the company might not be able to find a buyer at all. Because of uncertainty about the company’s future, sales of its handsets could get even worse, so National Bank Financial analysts have lowered their second quarter BlackBerry 10 shipments.


BlackBerry estimates lowered

Analyst Kris Thompson and associates Auritro Kundu and Nikhil Thadani issued a report to investors this week explaining why BlackBerry’s sale process isn’t good for business. They lowered their BlackBerry 10 estimates to 3 million units from 5 million units for the company’s second fiscal quarter.

They note that in the last quarter, the company shipped about 2.7 million BlackBerry 10 devices, although there were no Q10 sales in the key U.S. enterprise market. In fact, they said they haven’t heard “much buzz around large Q10 deployments” during the current quarter.

BlackBerry 7 may not be a good continued investment

They’re projecting that BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) will sell 3.8 million BlackBerry 7 units during the quarter, compared to 4.1 million in the last quarter. They note that the company still invests in the old BlackBerry 7 platform. It plans to launch the new 9720 handset in some key markets this month, assuming that customers who buy the handset may in the future upgrade to a BlackBerry 10 handset.

However, the National Bank analysts believe that sales of BlackBerry 7 units may fall off more quickly than expected, pointing to how quickly Nokia’s Symbian platform fell away after it announced that it would offer Windows Phones.

BlackBerry’s sale process just bad for business

Of course the public announcement that BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) was putting itself up for sale is probably based on poor uptake of the BlackBerry 10 operating system. The analyst team notes that management has said that the platform needed to be launched before they would consider selling the company. Now it has, and the lack of interest in the platform is essentially the last nail in the company’s coffin.

But while investors have responded rather positively to the announcement that BlackBerry is putting itself up for sale, National Bank analysts call the “for sale” sign “a big problem.” They believe enterprises will continue to push back implementation of the BlackBerry 10 platform, and even “die-hard consumers” may not buy the devices because of uncertainty about whether the company will be around to service its devices much longer.

“The public for sale sign may be what torpedoes management’s valiant efforts to resuscitate a dying brand,” the analysts wrote.

What about BlackBerry’s future?

They note that right now shares of BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) are trading on takeover speculation, so they’re maintaining their per share target of around $8. They said now that Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is acquiring Nokia’s handset division, BlackBerry’s best chance might be to downsize and just focus on the enterprise niche.

They note that the company probably has decent patent value, but they don’t have enough confidence to suggest a fair value. The analysts said the longer the company’s strategic review goes on, “the uglier” the company’s outlook may end up being. They believe there’s a good chance the company will be broken up and suggest that its aggregate value might be under the current trading price of the stock.

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