RIM torches its third quarter

Strong BlackBerry sales help Research in Motion beat sales and profit expectations.

By Kim Peterson Dec 16, 2010 7:03PM
Credit: © 2010 Research In Motion LimitedResearch in Motion (RIMM) would like you to know that it's far from dead. In fact, the company shipped a record number of BlackBerries in its most recent quarter, thanks to the new Torch.

The company beat expectations on revenue and profit in its third quarter, reporting a profit of $911.1 million, or $1.74 a share, up from $628.4 million, or $1.10 a share, a year ago. Analysts were expecting $1.65 a share. And sales rose 40% to $5.49 billion, higher than the $5.41 billion analysts were looking for.

The company added 5.1 million new subscribers, not quite the 5.2 million analysts had expected. But RIM shipped 14.2 million BlackBerry devices in the quarter -- a 40% increase from the year-ago period.

Investors were pleased with the numbers, pushing RIM shares up about 2% in after-hours trading to $60.20. The results were a welcome relief after a deluge of speculation over the past year predicting RIM's demise at the hands of Apple's (AAPL) iPhone and Google's (GOOG) Android platform.

The results were positive enough for RIM to give guidance for the current quarter that was above analyst expectations. The company said it will see revenue of between $5.5 billion to $5.7 billion, and profit will be between $1.74 to $1.80 a share. Analysts were looking for $5.46 billion in revenue and $1.61 in per-share profit. Post continues after video:
But though RIM may have turned a corner, it still has significant problems. It's been steadily losing market share to the iPhone and Android phones. Globally, it owns only about 15% of the smartphone market, down from 20% a year ago, Bloomberg reported. Apple has about 17% of the global market and Samsung, which uses Android, has nearly 9%.

The picture in North America was even worse. RIM's market share on the continent has dropped to 27.3% from 51% a year ago, Dow Jones reported. Android has 39% of the market while the iPhone has about 28%.

RIM is desperate to reverse those trends 2011, and is banking on the debut of its PlayBook tablet. Playbook is considered a competitor of Apple's market-leading iPad tablet, and analysts expect RIM to sell about 2.55 million PlayBooks in the first year of sales, Bloomberg reported. (Apple sold 4.15 million iPads in the third quarter.)

RIM has run into criticism in the past of its gross margin, which some investors felt was unacceptably low. The company is working to reverse that, however, and said that its gross margin in the quarter grew to 43.6%. Analysts had been expecting 42%.

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