A profit, though slim, for Blackberry

New York TimesMarch 28, 2013 

— BlackBerry reported a surprise profit on Thursday for its latest quarter, when it introduced a new line of phones and new software to revive its once-dominant cellphone brand. But it still recorded a net loss of $646 million for the entire fiscal year.

The annual loss, which tax benefits reduced from an operating loss of $1.2 billion, compared with $1.16 billion in net earnings a year earlier.

In the latest quarter, which ended March 2, the company lost $18 million from operations. But recovery of income taxes transformed that into a $98 million profit for the quarter, or 19 cents a share.

BlackBerry has struggled with declining sales. Revenue in the latest quarter was $2.6 billion, compared with $2.7 billion in the same period a year ago. Annual revenue fell to $11 billion, from $18.4 billion a year earlier.

For about one month of the quarter, the first of its new phones, the BlackBerry Z10, was on sale in Canada, Britain and some other markets, but not the United States. BlackBerry said that it shipped about a million of the handsets during that time.

It nevertheless reported that there were 79 million BlackBerry subscribers worldwide at the end of the period, a loss of about 3 million users. Until the third quarter of the fiscal year, BlackBerry, formerly known as Research in Motion, had consistently increased the number of subscribers.

In an unanticipated move, the company announced that Mike Lazaridis, one of its co-founders, would cut all formal ties to BlackBerry in May.

Along with Jim Balsillie, Lazaridis stepped down as co-chairman and co-chief executive in January 2012. Although Balsillie left shortly afterward, Lazaridis remained on BlackBerry’s board as vice chairman.

Last week, he announced plans to start an investment fund focused on companies working on computers based on principles from quantum physics.

“With the launch of BlackBerry 10, I believe I have fulfilled my commitment to the board,” Lazaridis said in a statement.

AT&T became the first U.S. carrier to offer the new phone last week.

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