BlackBerry reported quarterly earnings Thursday that outpaced market expectations, boosted in part by the launch of its new BlackBerry 10 smartphone that analysts view as a make or break moment for the beleaguered company.
The company, formerly known as Research in Motion, posted fourth-quarter earnings of 19 cents a share. Excluding items, BlackBerry made a profit of 22 cents per share, down sharply from 80 cents a share in the year-earlier period.
Those figures, however, were far ahead of what Wall Street was anticipating. Analysts had expected BlackBerry to report a quarterly loss of 29 cents a share on $2.85 billion in revenue, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.
The company's stock has seen head-spinning volatility in recent months, as enthusiasm for its prospects waxes and wanes among investors.
Some of that was on display Thursday morning as investors took a closer look at BlackBerry's earnings, and clearly didn't like much of what they saw. The company's shares swung from a more than eight percent gain to a three percent loss in premarket trading. Shortly after the opening bell on Wall Street, the stock jumped by nearly four percent. (Click here to track the company's shares.)
Launched just days ago in the wake of a massive marketing blitz, the BlackBerry Z10 is seen as a linchpin to the company's efforts to revive its fortunes. BlackBerry said it has moved about one million of the new phones, which for the moment is a touchscreen version that mirrors the wildly popular iPhone and Galaxy virtual keyboards.
A second iteration, the Q10 that features the physical keyboard to which loyalists have become accustomed, is scheduled to hit the market in April or May. The so-called staggered launch, along with the Z10's relatively modest debut, has made some observers wonder if hardcore BlackBerry devotees might be holding out for the physical keyboard.
"We have implemented numerous changes at BlackBerry over the past year and those changes have resulted in the Company returning to profitability in the fourth quarter," said Thorsten Heins, President and CEO of BlackBerry, in a statement. This was the company's second consecutive quarterly profit.