April 7, 2004 1:55 PM PDT

RIM reports profit, stock split

BlackBerry device and service company Research In Motion reported on Wednesday its third straight quarter of profitability while also announcing a 2-for-1 stock split.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based company reported revenue of $210.6 million for its fourth quarter, which ended Feb. 28, up 141 percent compared with the same period of year ago, when it posted revenue of $87.5 million. The company's earnings came in at $41.5 million, or 46 cents per share, compared with a net loss of $31 million, or 40 cents per share, last year.

Excluding charges for its case with holding company NTP, the company's earnings were $50.2 million, or 56 cents per share. Revenue for its fiscal year was $594.6 million, compared with $306.7 million last year.

Analysts were expecting earnings of 50 cents per share on revenue of $207 million for the fourth quarter. For the year, analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call were expecting revenue of $590.5 million and earnings of 92 cents per share. RIM had yearly earnings of 62 cents per share.

Subscribers to its wireless service grew by 204,000 for a total of just more than 1 million.

"We surpassed the pivotal 1 million subscribers mark, and the continuing escalation of BlackBerry's popularity is evident in our fourth-quarter results and outlook," RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie said in a statement. "The past fiscal year saw dramatic progress on both operational and strategic fronts, as RIM and its partners achieved significant traction in the market and continued to expand the reach of the BlackBerry platform around the world."

The company also said Wednesday that its board of directors has approved a 2-for-1 stock split, which will be in the form of a stock dividend. People who own shares by May 27 will get one additional common share of RIM for each common share they hold. The dividend will be paid to shareholders on June 4. The total number of RIM shares outstanding as of Feb. 28 was 92.4 million, and following the split, there will be 184.8 million shares.

During the quarter, the company signed major phone makers such as Sony Ericsson and Samsung Electronics to licensing deals for its technology.

Still, a lawsuit with holding company NTP hangs over the company and is hindering the decision of phone makers to start selling phones in the United States that use RIM's software and service.

A district court ruled last year that RIM infringed on NTP patents and awarded NTP an injunction, which is stayed, pending an appeal. The decision has left some phone makers such as Nokia hesitant about pushing phones with RIM capabilities.

RIM shares closed the day down $1.49 per share, or 1.4 percent, to $108.29.

In after-hours trading, the company's shares fell $1.74 per share, or about 1.5 percent, to $106.24.

RIM has cash, and cash equivalents, of $1.2 billion as of Feb. 28.

The company recently signed a settlement agreement with rival Good Technology on various lawsuits. Good will pay a lump sum to RIM as well as quarterly royalties in the future.

"We're now focused on how to get to $5 million and $10 million as quickly as possible," Balsillie said during a conference call.

To reach those figures the company will continue to sign carrier deals. During the call, executives said the company will make deals with 25 new carriers over the next six months.

Hindering that could be a shortage of display components, but executives downplayed the impact.

RIM increased revenue and earnings guidance for the current fiscal first quarter 2005. Revenue is expected to be in the $250 million to $265 million range with GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) earnings following the stock split of 21 cents to 26 cents per share. Excluding expenses, such as those involving litigation, the company estimates earnings of 28 cents to 33 cents per share in the first quarter.

For the second quarter, RIM estimates revenue to be in the $270 million to $290 million range with GAAP earnings of 24 cents to 29 cents per share. Excluding expenses, RIM estimates earnings of 32 cents to 37 cents per share.

 

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