BlackBerry Ltd Q2 Earnings Preview

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When BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) releases its next earnings report, analysts aren’t expecting a lot. But they do want to see signs of stability and will be paying attention to service revenues and subscriber retention.

Few benchmarks in BlackBerry’s next report

In an earnings preview report dated Sept. 19, 2014, Morgan Stanley analysts James Faucette and Meta Marshall note that BlackBerry’s upcoming product releases are all staggered toward the end of the 2014 calendar year. As a result, there isn’t going to be any data that will help investors judge whether the Canadian smartphone maker is getting any healthier in terms of its products.

They are expecting in-line results, however, that show “financial and operational stabilization” before the new product releases coming later this year.

Hoping for no bad news

Because of the lack of any new product releases or major announcements in the last quarter, the Morgan Stanley team does not expect anything that will determine whether BlackBerry has the potential to turn things around.

They’re projecting cash burn to be less than last quarter’s $255 million, which excluded one-time benefits. More specifically, the analysts said they’re looking for $133 million in cash burn for the most recently completed quarter. BlackBerry has said it wants to become cash flow breakeven by the end of the 2015 fiscal year.

The analysts note that management had said the restructuring should be mostly complete by the end of the last quarter. As a result, they’re expecting to see another decline in operating expenditures. They want to see them fall to 51% of BlackBerry’s revenue as it tries to become profitable again in the 2016 fiscal year.

What to watch for in BlackBerry’s report

The Morgan Stanley analysts said they’ll keep watching subscriber retention and service revenues, noting that BlackBerry beat revenue estimates in its last earnings report. However, they also point out that some one-time events helped with that, like the $30 million the company got from the Venezuela settlement.

They say it’s important that BlackBerry doesn’t shed its services revenue stream too much and that the company can do this by slowing down subscriber loss. They’re projecting about $450 million in services revenue from approximately 47 million subscribers. That would be a net loss of about 3 million subscribers.

They’re looking for device sell-in of 1.5 million, compared to 1.6 million in the first fiscal quarter of 2015 and 1.3 million in the quarter before that. In addition, they’re expecting device sell-through of 1.5 million, compared to the previous quarter’s 2.6 million and the fourth fiscal quarter’s 3.4 million.

Looking ahead to new BlackBerry products

Of course BlackBerry has a lot of products coming up yet this year. In just two days, the company will unveil the square Passport smartphone. BlackBerry is expected to release the new Classic smartphone and BlackBerry Enterprise Server 12 in November. Then in December, the company will likely show off QNX Cloud.

The analysts do not expect these products’ succeed and adoption to be evident until the fourth fiscal quarter. They say that report will be a far stronger indication of whether BlackBerry will be able to hit its target of returning to growth next year.

In Friday’s report, they think BlackBerry will highlight BlackBerry Messenger growth, mostly because the Windows Phone version was introduced. They also expect to hear more about growth in the company’s EZ Pass licenses and success with the Z3 handset. Nonetheless, they say that the coming quarter’s product releases are “more critical” to BlackBerry’s turnaround efforts.

They continue to rate BlackBerry as Equal-weight going into Friday’s earnings report.

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