What a depressing couple of weeks for BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY) fans. It started with BlackBerry's disappointing earnings results a couple of weeks ago. As poor as BlackBerry's recent quarter was, it was doubly painful given the surprisingly positive numbers from BlackBerry's fiscal 2013 Q4 reported in March.
The 34% drop in BlackBerry's share price since announcing earnings, along with a near consensus from analysts that investors should either hold BlackBerry stock or, better yet, avoid it altogether, has added fuel to the fire sale. But before you give up on BlackBerry, there are a couple of factors worth considering that could make its recent share-price decline a value opportunity, rather than the basis for a mass exodus.
A quick recap
Two key numbers many BlackBerry fans were interested in were the total number of smartphones sold in Q1 and, even more importantly, how many of them were BB10 phones. Turns out that of the 6.8 million smartphones sold, 2.7 million of them were BB10 units. Not horrible, but 2.7 million BB10 units weren't nearly enough to forgive and forget BlackBerry's earnings and revenue numbers.
BlackBerry's fiscal 2014 Q1 revenues of $3.1 billion were up sequentially and against the year-ago quarter, but they missed consensus analyst estimates of $3.36 billion, putting additional pressure on its stock price. But what really hit BlackBerry shares hard was their non-GAAP loss of $0.13 a share, when expectations were for a $0.06 a share profit.
Perhaps not as glaringly obvious as missing earnings expectations, but just as disconcerting, were BlackBerry's operating expenses, particularly in light of its much-ballyhooed "CORE" program. Unfortunately, the CORE initiative, designed to "streamline operations and increase efficiency," is more than a year old, having made its debut in March 2012, and so far there's little or nothing to show for it.
If you remove last year's accounting-related "impairment of goodwill" from BlackBerry's operating costs, this quarter's expenses actually jumped about $120 million compared with the year-ago period and sequentially. After five quarters of CORE, BlackBerry shareholders have a right to expect results. Granted, the rollouts of BlackBerry's new Z10, Q10, and soon-to-come midrange Q5 smartphones hit marketing expenses hard, but significant reductions in other areas after more than a year of CORE aren't too much to ask.
The silver lining
It's worth noting that BlackBerry had significant one-time charges this past quarter, including $26 million in CORE-related expenses that weren't included in the $67 million non-GAAP loss it reported. Not worthy of a shareholder celebration, but it may take at least some of the sting out of BlackBerry's disappointing quarter.
But what a BlackBerry rebound comes down to is the success of its Q10, period. The market's acceptance of the keyboard-less Z10 has been marginal at best, but we knew that months ago. Thing is, the Q10 and its physical keyboard weren't even available in the all-important U.S. smartphone market last quarter, let alone the mid-level Q5. So hold off on the "BlackBerry is dead" talk, at least for now, until the Q10 has a full quarter of sales in the U.S. under its belt.
This is the quarter that counts for BlackBerry: Either it will show signs of life, or it will continue its fade into oblivion. If you believe the Q10 is the answer and can stomach some risk, BlackBerry's steep share price decline of late presents an intriguing value opportunity.
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