Research In Motion Ltd (BBRY) Earnings Preview: Focus On May

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Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) will report its earnings before the market opens on Thursday, and analysts from at least two firms say that even if the company’s report is strong, May’s report will be more important.

The company usually releases its earnings after the markets close, but it’s likely making an exception this time because Friday is a U.S. holiday.

Research In Motion Ltd (BBRY) Earnings Preview: Focus On May

Analysts at National Bank Financial said they expect a “bullish conference call,” but they say it’s too early to know if the BlackBerry Z10 is a success or a failure. Interest does already appear to be waning in at least two key BlackBerry markets: the company’s home turf of Canada and also the U.K.

Of course every earnings report is important, but the May quarter will be the big one for Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) because that’s when we’ll get a full picture of how the BlackBerry Z10 is selling. The company rolled out the handset gradually around the world, and the U.S. launch came last Friday on the AT&T network.

In the February report, due out on Thursday, National Bank analysts predict $2.7 billion in revenue, compared to the consensus of $2.8 billion. That’s a drop of 36 percent year-over-year and 2 percent quarter over quarter. They expect 6 million smartphone shipments, compared to the consensus of 7.1 million. They also predict 2 million BlackBerry 10 shipments, compared to the consensus of 1 million.

The analysts are leaving their rating of the stock at Underperform and keeping their target price at $10 per share.

BGC analyst Colin W. Gillis also said May will be an important report for Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB), although he is also looking even further out in the company’s future. He predicts $2.89 billion in revenue and losses of 35 cents per share, compared with the consensus of 29 cents per share in losses.

He said his estimates are above consensus because he is looking for 1.3 million BlackBerry Z10 handsets to be shipped, which is slightly above the 1 million consensus but still much lower than the estimate of National Bank analysts. Gillis said his biggest concern about Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) isn’t the launch of its products, it’s whether or not demand for its products will remain in the longer term.

He believes that the BlackBerry maker’s marketing strategy has some “flaws” in it. He pointed out that although the high end of the smartphone market appears to be saturated and decelerating, the company is focusing its efforts there instead of in the mid-range market where it has had success in the past.

The analyst also expects the average selling price of both of the new BlackBerry handsets to fall to $100 or $50 with a contract by the end of the year. He believes $200 is too much for users to pay when taking the risk of adopting a new operating system. Gills also questioned the wisdom of delaying the BlackBerry Q10, which is the handset that has the traditional BlackBerry keyboard. He believes this may put off loyal BlackBerry users because the keyboard is considered by many to be the “defining feature” of the handsets made by the company.

Gillis has given shares of Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) a Sell rating and set his price target at $7 per share.

Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) shares rose 1.5 percent at the NASDAQ in Tuesday afternoon trading.

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