BlackBerry reports Q2 profit, higher sales from software and services

BlackBerry Ltd. (TSX:BB) chief executive John Chen touted the company’s progress in its strategic shift away from its legacy handset business after it reported record software and services revenue on Thursday, sending its shares up as much as 17 per cent.

The Waterloo, Ont.-based company reported US$19 million in net income for its fiscal second quarter, a big swing from the loss reported during the comparable period last year.

Its software and services revenue for the quarter ended Aug. 31 hit a high of $185 million, comprising roughly three-quarters of the total for the period.

BlackBerry CEO John Chen said Thursday this metric, as well as the company’s improved margins, is a reflection of “our compete transformation to a software company.”

“We made great progress in all our key growth initiatives… all of these accomplishments position us well for future growth,” he told analysts on a conference call this morning.

Shares of BlackBerry in New York were up as much as 17.3 per cent to US$10.83 in intraday trading. The Waterloo, Ont.-based company’s shares in Toronto were up as much as 16.8 per cent to $13.47.

BlackBerry has made a strategic pivot in recent years away from manufacturing its namesake smartphones to producing mainly software and services as its devices lost market share to Apple Inc.’s and Samsung Electronics Co.

BlackBerry’s revenue for the three months ended Aug. 31 was US$238 million, down from $334 million in last year’s second quarter but up $3 million from the previous quarter ended May 31.

The company’s profit in the latest quarter amounted to four cents per basic share, reported in U.S. currency. That compared with a year-earlier loss of 71 cents per basic share, or US$372 million in total.

Michael Walkley, an analyst with Canaccord Genuity based in Minneapolis, said the upside this quarter was “more one-time in nature,” helped by some non-recurring licensing items. Still, BlackBerry’s latest results show it is making headway on its long-term goals, he added.

“The company’s definitely making progress on longer-term objectives, and putting up another strong quarter relative to consensus easily explains why the stock’s up,” Walkley said Thursday.

Chen also upgraded BlackBerry’s outlook for the fiscal year, which ends on February 28, 2018. The company expects revenue in the range of US$920-million to US$950-million for the full year, Chen said, above analyst consensus of US$919-million. Chen also reiterated the company’s expectation that software and services revenue will grow in the range of 10- to 15-per cent for the fiscal year. The company also expects to be profitable for the full fiscal year, he added.

BlackBerry also announced Thursday that it signed a new licensing deal, the first for BlackBerry Secure, its mobile-security platform designed to help companies manage and secure a variety of connected devices.

The company said it signed a licensing deal with Yangzhou New Telecom Science and Technology Company Ltd. (NTD), an electronics design firm based in Yangzhou and Beijing which develops and manufactures smartphones and connected devices. Under the agreement, NTD will develop devices that will be branded by manufacturers, carriers and local smartphone brands and marketed under BlackBerry Secure.

This deal comes days after BlackBerry QNX, its automotive division, announced a partnership agreement with U.K.-based Delphi Automotive PLC to provide the operating system for its autonomous driving system. Also on Sept. 20, BlackBerry said it entered a reselling partnership with Fleet Complete, a U.S. fleet-tracking solution company. Fleet Complete will integrate BlackBerry’s Radar, its trailer and other container tracking solution, into its tracking product.

Growth in the latest quarter was helped by the higher software and services revenue, said BlackBerry’s chief financial officer Steve Capelli, on a call with analysts. Much of that growth was driven by licensing, which has the highest margins, he added.

Chen said that expects licensing will continue to be a strong driver of growth in the second half of the fiscal year, but over time it will be an equal contributor alongside its enterprise software business.

“I don’t see a limit to my ability to license both our software technology, our know-how, as well as our IP (intellectual property),” Chen said during a call with reporters on Thursday.