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Shares of BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) fell nearly 14 percent to $30.47, down from a closing price of $35.33, after RIM released the results of its first quarter performance in its 2012 fiscal year on Thursday.
The company missed multiple targets set by Wall Street analysts for its full-year profit for its 2012 fiscal year, and its net income was down 10 percent in the first quarter this fiscal year when compared to the first quarter last year.
RIM also said it would begin “streamlining operations,” which would include layoffs. There will be headcount productions across the company and a re-allocation of current employees to development projects that should prove more popular with consumers.
Revenue rose 16 percent to $4.9 billion, but that was still below Wall Street estimates of $5.3 billion. RIM brought in around $4.2 billion in the first quarter of its 2011 fiscal year. On April 28, RIM said it experienced lower-than-expected sales in the United States.
Here are the highlights from the company’s quarterly conference call.
* Challenges in the U.S. are making near-term earnings growth difficult.
* The existing portfolio of BlackBerry products has been out for about a year, and there have been delays in shipping new products. RIM also missed deadlines for back-to-school products.
* RIM shipped around 500,000 PlayBooks in the first quarter. The PlayBook launch did not go as smoothly as planned, the company said. The PlayBook will soon feature video chat and a native Facebook app.
* RIM said it believes that the PlayBook launch in the U.K. could be as successful as the launch of the BlackBerry in the United States. There are around 1,500 enterprise customers that are using the PlayBook.
* RIM is working with Verizon and Sprint to roll out PlayBook packages. It’s working with both wireless providers to create bundles that include BlackBerry smartphones.
* RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis (pictured left) is defending the delays behind the launch of the company’s next BlackBerry lineup. “When consumers get the device in their hands, they’ll know it was worth the wait,” Lazaridis said.
* “There are a number of reasons why (transitioning to QNX, the BlackBerry PlayBook’s operating system, right away) wasn’t a feasible alternative. A hard cut over of platforms would have meant abandoning our strong and loyal Blackberry community. It would have been hard to deliver a multi-core QNX device. To take that path would have left RIM with a product void in 2012,” Lazaridis said.
* The likely range for RIM’s earnings this year is between $5.25 and $6 per share, primarily because of delayed launches for its new BlackBerry products and missing deadlines with its back-to-school programs.
* RIM expects to ship between 11 and 12.5 million BlackBerrys. Most of that will come from sales of BlackBerrys at the low end of the pricing range.
* BlackBerry 7 operating system code is “the best quality code we’ve ever entered into the lab,” said co-CEO Jim Balsillie. “The BlackBerry 7 products are amazing, the quality, the feel, the industrial design, everything has been upgraded.”
* BlackBerry OS 7 will be the largest launch the company has ever had, Balsillie said. That doesn’t mean the company is delaying a QNX-based “superphone,” he said.
* QNX-based devices are still slated for early 2012, Balsillie said.
* The QNX operating system is a platform that RIM should be able to run “for a decade plus,” Lazaridis said.
* The BlackBerry 7 products are designed for a messaging, communications market. They’re smaller and lower cost, Ballsilie said. “They fit into market segments where cost is a premium. The first QNX-based superphone is very much built on the PlayBook platform and will offer a very high degree of performance and will be a top-of-the-line device.”
* Concerning BlackBerry 7 delays, Balsillie said, “Could we have asked people to get things done sooner? They were all working as hard and as fast as they could.”
* Concerning layoffs, Lazaridis said the company grew too quickly and it was time to focus on more specific projects. “We’ve just been so busy growing and developing product that this is the right time for us to step back and make the system more efficient. We want to make sure we have the right cost structure for the industry. We don’t want to be able to do everything just because we can. I wouldn’t call this a reorganization or a restructuring. If we don’t have an efficient organization, that’s not helping anybody.”
* One analyst asked about whether RIM should shift to a single CEO instead of the co-CEO structure that the company has. “I don’t think it’s an issue,” Balsillie said. “I think I have expertise in what I do, Mike has distinctive expertise in what he does, and I think parts of it overlap and we’re highly coordinated.”
“We work very closely together and I don’t know where all these (criticisms about having both Lazaridis and Balsillie as CEOs) are coming from,” Lazaridis said. “This is fun, as difficult as it gets we are changing the world. Jim and I have the perfect balance to make those difficult decisions.”
* The weaker optimism for the next quarter again comes back to missing deadlines for back-to-school programs, RIM said: “It’s not like back to school comes back again in January — once you miss it, you don’t get that opportunity again.”
* Lazaridis and Balsillie are trying to reassure investors and analysts that they are a good team to run the company as co-CEOs, citing some of their accomplishments, like “busting out a tablet on a new OS in a year” and “working on a lineup of 4G tablets.”
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