BlackBerry nixes earnings call in light of sale; T-Mobile stops selling the handsets in stores


BlackBerry said Wednesday that it will not be holding its customary conference call when it announces quarterly earnings on Friday. (DADO RUVIC/REUTERS)
September 26, 2013

BlackBerry investors looking to learn more about the firm’s pending sale to a Toronto investors group are out of luck. The company said Wednesday that it will not be holding its customary conference call when it announces quarterly earnings on Friday.

The beleaguered Canadian smartphone maker announced earlier this week that it intends to sell itself for $4.7 billion to a group of investors led by Fairfax Financial,

“In light of the letter of intent agreement between BlackBerry and Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited that was signed and announced on Monday, September 23, BlackBerry has cancelled its second quarter earnings conference call and webcast,” the company said in a press statement. “The company will publish further details regarding its second quarter results in the Management’s Discussion and Analysis and consolidated financial statements, to be filed next week.”

The firm had forecast that it lost nearly $1 billion this quarter and announced plans that it will cut about 40 percent of its work force. The company has said that it will refocus its efforts on the business sector, particularly government business, in a return to its roots. The firm has also taken steps to add support for competitors’ devices to some of its software, using its reputation for security to sell enterprise products.

BlackBerry has signed a letter of intent for a deal with Fairfax — which values the firm at $9 per share — but has also made it clear that it is open to other options. Doubts about whether the deal would go through sent BlackBerry shares down in Wednesday trading to $8 a share. On Thursday, shares were hovering around the $8 mark in morning trading.

Blackberry's market with the government is declining.

Fairfax founder and chief executive Prem Watsa told the Associated Press on Wednesday that he does not intend to break up the company or move it out of Canada if the deal goes through.

“[One] of the reasons I went on the board, and I said it publicly, was to keep the company in Canada and to make sure it survives and exists in Canada,” Watsa said in the report. “It is one of Canada’s most successful companies. Companies do fall on hard times, and they come back again, and we expect this company to do the same.”

Businesses are BlackBerry’s most important customers. On Wednesday, T-Mobile referred to that marketshare when it told Reuters that the carrier will no longer stock BlackBerry handsets in its stores. David Carey, T-Mobile’s executive vice president for corporate services, said that demand for the phones has been low and that it is “inefficient” to keep them in stock. Most of the customers interested in BlackBerry, he said, are businesses that don’t make buying decisions in stores.

That doesn’t mean, however, that T-Mobile is dropping BlackBerry altogether. In a statement, the company said its customers will still be able to order the devices.

“T-Mobile continues to support the Blackberry platform. Customers can buy BlackBerry Z10 and Q10 devices in T-Mobile retail stores, online at www.T-Mobile.com and through B2B sales channels,” the statement said. “The T-Mobile retail channel is moving toward fulfillment via direct ship for Blackberry devices, rather than in-store inventory. A customer will still see a phone on the shelf. If inventory is not available in the store, the device can be ordered.”

BlackBerry responded to the T-Mobile decision with a statement saying that it will continue to work with all carriers to deliver phones to its customers.

“BlackBerry is focused on serving users who want to be highly productive at work and on-the-go,” the statement said. “As such, we will be working with our carrier partners to deliver BlackBerry 10 to these power users in a variety of ways – based on carrier preference - through the channel, in-store or online.”

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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