Canadian Manufacturing

BlackBerry beats forecasts, posts modest profit

The embattled smartphone maker rode a $107-million swing to make a surprise first-quarter profit

WATERLOO, Ont.—BlackBerry Ltd.’s efforts to remodel the company’s smartphone business appear to be making some headway as the smartphone maker delivered a surprise profit of $23 million during its first quarter compared with a loss of $84 million a year ago, beating analyst expectations.

On an adjusted basis, BlackBerry reported a loss of 11 cents per share.

However, revenue tumbled to $966 million for the three months ended May 31, compared with $3.07 billion a year ago.

BlackBerry is holding its annual shareholders meeting later this morning June 19 in Waterloo.

Chief executive John Chen has said he aims to make BlackBerry a break-even company by the end of the fiscal year with a target of rising to profitability in its 2016 financial year.

“Over the past six months, we have focused on improving efficiency in all aspects of our operations to drive cost reductions and margin improvement,” he said in a statement.

Chen was hired last year to reshape BlackBerry’s business model, reduce expenses and lead an effort to help the company find a better footing in the highly competitive tech sector.

On a conference call with analysts, Chen gave some insight into BlackBerry’s plans for the rest of the year.

He said the company will launch a new keyboard smartphone model called the BlackBerry Passport in September.

BlackBerry is dedicating more resources to serving business and public sector customers after a failed attempt to compete with Apple’s iPhone and the various smartphones on the Android operating system that dominate the consumer market.

During the quarter, BlackBerry booked revenue for about 2.6 million smartphone sales, which is an increase from the revenue from 1.3 million devices a quarter earlier.

BlackBerry also boosted its cash holdings to $3.1 billion, from $2.7 billion in the previous quarter, with the help of a tax refund and money from the recent sale of real estate assets.

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