Ahead of the Bell: RIM's earnings results

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd., which has been struggling amid competition from the iPhone and Android devices, will release its first quarterly earnings report Thursday under its new chief executive.

The report for the fiscal fourth quarter, which ended March 3, is expected after the market closes.

Investors will be looking for details from CEO Thorsten Heins on a strategic direction for the company and whether RIM can keep selling older models while it prepares to launch a next-generation smartphone at the end of the year. Analysts say RIM's future depends on the new BlackBerry 10 software platform, although many say it may be too late.

Heins has said a drastic change in strategy is not needed, even as the once-iconic maker of the BlackBerry smartphone confronts the most difficult period in its history. Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis stepped down as co-CEOs and co-chairmen in January. Heins assumed the top job at a time when Americans were abandoning their Blackberry's for flashier touch-screen phones like Apple's iPhone and various competing models that run Google's Android software.

Just a few years ago the Canadian company was riding high when President Barack Obama refused to part with his BlackBerry after he took office. Although BlackBerrys are cheaper than some of their rivals and remain popular internationally, RIM is struggling with delays in getting new phones out.

Its PlayBook tablet computer has been a dud, and its stock price is at a five-year low. A company that was once worth more than $70 billion now has a market value of less than $8 billion.

RIM has said it expects fourth-quarter earnings will be in the range of 80 cents to 95 cents per share on revenue of $4.6 billion to $4.9 billion. Analysts polled by FactSet on average expect earnings of 81 cents per share on revenue of $4.54 billion. In the same period a year ago, RIM earned $710 million, or $1.27 per share, on revenue of $4.08 billion.

For the current fiscal quarter ending in May, analysts expect $4.3 billion in revenue and earnings of 67 cents per share and earnings of $4.08 per share for the year.

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