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BlackBerry maker warns on slowing growth

04 декабря 2008

Research in Motion, the Canadian manufacturer of BlackBerry smartphones, became the latest mobile handset maker to warn about slowing growth when it issued a surprise profit warning late on Tuesday night.

RIM, which blamed new product delays, general economic conditions and slowing subscriber growth, cut its third quarter revenue and profit guidance well below Wall Street expectations, sending its shares tumbling in early trading on Wednesday before recovering.

Although the company’s recent product launches, including the touch-screen-based BlackBerry Storm have been well received, the revenue and profit warning has highlighted that RIM, like many of its rivals, is not recession-proof.

”Initial sales of new products have been very positive and we believe we have the strongest smartphone portfolio in the industry by far, “ said Jim Balsillie, Co-CEO at RIM. “However product launch timing, general economic conditions and foreign exchange volatility have tempered our results in the third quarter,” he said.

Mr Basillie’s latest comments were in sharp contrast to the bullish tone he struck just two months ago when the company reported strong second-quarter results and brushed aside analyst concerns about slowing market growth and falling margins.

On Wednesday however, RIM said it now expected to report fiscal third-quarter revenue of between $2.75bn and $2.78bn, about 10 per cent lower that analysts’ forecasts.

Adjusted earnings are now expected to be between 81 cents and 83 cents per share, compared with the 89 cents to 97 cents per share the company had initially forecast for its third quarter, which ended November 29.

RIM, which has pushed deeper into the consumer market over the past 18 months making it more susceptible to changing consumer sentiment, said it now expected to add about 2.6m net new BlackBerry subscribers in the quarter, down from a previous estimate of 2.9m but still 57 per cent more than in the year-ago period.

The warning follows a dire forecast from Palm, the struggling maker of Treo and Centro smartphone devices earlier this week. Palm said revenue for its latest quarter would fall substantially short of Wall Street’s already depressed expectations. Meanwhile Nokia, the world’s top cellphone maker, is expected to lower its mid-term profit forecasts at a global investor day in New York on Thursday.

About a third of RIM’s revenue shortfall reflects the impact of the recent strengthening of the US dollar, the company said. “The remaining difference is primarily due to lower than estimated unit shipments of existing products, which RIM believes is a reflection of general economic weakness in the US and shifts in product launch dates within the quarter.”

RIM blamed a changing product mix and foreign exchange movements for a further reduction in gross margin in the quarter which are now expected to be between 45 and 46 per cent. The company will announce its third quarter results on December 18.

RIM’s stock, which reached a record high of nearly $150 on Nasdaq in June, has fallen sharply in recent months as investors have reacted to the flood of negative economic signals. The shares recovered somewhat later on Wednesday and were trading at $37.49 at lunchtime in New York.

Источник: Financial Times

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