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BlackBerry CEO Chen says to expect profits ... in 2016

For now, revenues still spiraling toward drain

In a conference call with financial analysts on Friday, BlackBerry CEO John Chen said the firm kept costs under control and even eked out a meager profit in the third quarter of its fiscal 2015, but he couldn't hide that the ailing mobe-maker's revenues continued their steady decline.

BlackBerry brought in revenues of $793m for the three months ending on November 29, which was down 34 per cent from the year-ago quarter and down 13 per cent sequentially.

It was a bloodbath beyond what even the most cynical of Wall Street analysts had expected, with sales that were 5 per cent lower than even the lowest estimate polled by Yahoo! Finance.

Not surprisingly, the year-over-year shrinkage hit every aspect of the Canadian firm's business. Hardware sales were down 24 per cent to $361m, services were down 42 per cent to $368m, software sales shrank 4 per cent to $54m, and everything else amounted to just $10m, which itself was a 66 per cent decline.

During the earnings call, Chen described the results as "obviously not satisfying" and said BlackBerry's executive team is dedicated to turning around the trend.

"It is my belief that we can stabilize and grow the revenue of the company in FY16," Chen said on the earnings call, "and while we will make every attempt to remain profitable going forward, sustainable profitability can only come from revenue growth."

About that profit: BlackBerry earned $6m for the quarter, but only when you disregard taxes, amortization, and other accounting items. On a GAAP basis, the company suffered a net loss of $148m.

On the positive side, however, BlackBerry posted earnings of a penny per diluted share, while the analysts were expecting it to lose five cents per share.

Chen eagerly talked up future plans, as well, saying BlackBerry has a "pretty strong" device roadmap that will be revealed at the Mobile World Congress in March, and that it's also working on a number of new software and services ventures.

"We're pleased to announce that Boeing is collaborating with BlackBerry to provide secure mobile solutions for Android devices utilizing our BES 12 platform," Chen said. "That, by the way, is all they allow me to say."

Chen also said BlackBerry now supports Android 5.0 "Lollipop" with its enterprise mobility management products.

But none of it was much consolation for BlackBerry shareholders, who sent the company's stock price down a couple of points on the news. But it could be worse; anybody who's still holding BlackBerry shares now is probably in for the long haul. ®

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