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RIMM stocks drop after BlackBerry revenue slump and job cuts announcement

Research In Motion, the maker of the popular BlackBerry smartphone, released quarterly revenue estimates that were below expectations and caused the company to announce job cuts as its stock dropped. As Hugo Miller reported:

Research in Motion, maker of the BlackBerry smartphone, forecast second-quarter revenue and profit that missed analysts’ estimates and said it will cut jobs as a lack of new models prompts consumers to buy rival devices.

The stock fell as much as 16 percent in late trading after RIM said profit this quarter would be 75 cents to $1.05 a share. Analysts predicted $1.40, excluding some costs, according to a Bloomberg survey. Revenue will be $4.2 billion to $4.8 billion in the three months through August, RIM said, compared with the average estimate of $5.47 billion.

RIM is losing market share in the United States to Apple’s iPhone and handsets with Google’s Android software, in part because it hasn’t introduced a major new BlackBerry model since August. Cheaper Google phones are also making inroads into Latin America, Asia and Europe, threatening the popularity of less-expensive BlackBerry models such as the Curve.

The forecast “means new devices won’t make it into the second quarter,” said Tero Kuittinen, an analyst at MKM Partners in Stamford, Conn. “This is a quarter they really needed new devices to get them in there and they won’t.”

RIM, based in Waterloo, Ontario, plunged as much as $5.73 to $29.60 in late trading, after closing at $35.33 in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The stock has lost 39 percent this year.

RIM had come under pressure after the release of its PlayBook tablet, which analysts did not think could compete with the Apple iPad. As AP reported:

“The existing portfolio of BlackBerry products has been in market for close to a year, and delivering new products has proven more challenging than anticipated,” RIM Co-CEO Jim Balsillie said on a conference call with analysts.

Balsillie also acknowledged that the April launch of the company’s tablet computer could have gone better. RIM got poor reviews on the Playbook and about 1,000 of the devices had to be recalled because of defective software. The company said it shipped about 500,000 of the tablets in its fiscal first quarter.

“The PlayBook launch did not go as smoothly as we had planned,” he said.

Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis made a rare appearance on the conference call as the two defended the business and their role as co-CEOs. RIM has an unusual leadership structure, where two executives, Balsillie and Lazaridis, serve as both co-CEOs and co-chairmen. Dissident shareholders are calling for RIM to separate the roles of CEO and chairman.

Some industry analysts believe RIM is following the same trajectory as Finish handset maker Nokia, which last month warned that its second-quarter sales and margins are expected to be much lower than anticipated because of the competition on devices in both the high- and low-end market.

“We have a strong business,” Lazaridis said. “We have made major platform upgrades, and we are almost through this transition.”

Other industry analysts criticized the dual-CEO struture which Research In Motion employs. As AP explained:

RIM has come under increasing scrutiny from investors after its stock slumped, the company lost phone market share, and its new PlayBook tablet computer, a rival to Apple’s iPad, was criticized by technology columnists. Last week, investor Northwest & Ethical Investments LP called for RIM to separate the roles of chairman and chief executive officer as analysts question whether RIM’s co-CEO structure is the best way to manage the company.

“With dual CEOs, you have a challenge,” said Brian Modoff, an analyst at Deutsche Bank Securities in San Francisco, who rates RIM a “sell.” “There are teams that are working on certain functions, but only reporting to one or the other CEO, so there is a duplication in structure.”

The company said Thursday it plans to eliminate an unspecified number of jobs and make organizational changes to accelerate product introductions. Benefits from the job cuts should start to appear in the third quarter, Chief Financial Officer Brian Bidulka said on the call.

“They definitely have some low-hanging fruit in terms of cutting costs,” Modoff said. “A streamlined structure would be beneficial for the company.”

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