RIM reports dismal Q4 earnings, departure of Balsillie, several executives

BlackBerry maker reports $125 million loss, will suspend further guidance

Well, that's one way to refocus Wall Street away from dismal quarterly earnings, though it's not likely to work. Research in Motion announced after Thursday's market close the firing of a number of high-level executives and the departure of former co-CEO Jim Balsillie from the board of directors. Oh, the BlackBerry maker also announced its fiscal fourth-quarter results. They were terrible. Shares of RIM (NASDAQ: RIMM) fell 10% in extended trading to 12.37, below the Canadian device manufacturer's 52-week low of 12.45. It's likely that price will be breached again during Friday's regular Wall Street session. RIM reported a loss for the quarter ended March 3 of $125 million, or 24 cents a share, on revenue of $4.19 billion. In last year's fourth quarter, RIM reported net income of $934 million, or $1.78 a share, on revenue of $5.6 billion. Earnings on an adjusted basis were 80 cents a share in Q4, excluding $355 million in charges for goodwill impairment and an inventory write-off (translation: they can't unload all their inventory). Average analyst estimates called for earnings of 81 cents a share on revenue of $4.54 billion. On to the executive dismissals. RIM chief executive Thorsten Heins, who took the job in January after Balsillie and co-CEO Mike Lazaridis stepped aside under pressure from shareholders, said chief technology officer David Yach is retiring and that chief operating officer Jim Rowan is no longer with the company. Other executives reportedly were dismissed, including a number of vice presidents and SVPs. One common complaint about RIM from employees writing anonymously on Glassdoor.com has been that it had too many managers. Apparently Heins agreed. Ironically, even as Heins continues efforts to turn around the BlackBerry maker -- whose smartphone market share has disintegrated in the past two years due to the popularity of Apple's iPhone and devices powered by Google's Android OS -- he was spouting the same kind of sunshiny nonsense routinely heard from Lazaridis and Balsillie. "I’m very excited about the prospects for the BlackBerry 10 platform,” Heins said in a statement. He'd probably be even more excited if BlackBerry 10 were released sooner than the latter half of this year. Until then, expect smartphone shipments, which were down 21% from the third quarter, to decline further, along with revenue and earnings. And expect the PlayBook tablet to continue to be ignored by the market. RIM also announced it will cease to provide guidance until further notice, probably because investors can only stand so much excitement.

Chris Nerney writes ITworld's Tech Business Today blog. Follow Chris on Twitter at @ChrisNerney. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

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