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RIM Beats Street And Then Some

CNBC.com

Research in Motion investors were betting on a big quarter, and the BlackBerry maker delivers. And delivers big time.

The company reported 72 cents a share on $1.88 billion, with both categories well ahead of Street expectations. Device sales and subscription sign-ups also beat expectations handily coming in at 2.18 million new customers and 4.4 million units sold respectively.

Analysts anticipated a high of 2.18 million units sold. Unit sales were all over the map, with most under 4.34 million, so RIM beat there as well.

And this is a good news story that keeps on giving: RIM offering up guidance for its first fiscal quarter with a new EPS range of 82 to 86 cents. The Street consensus was 76 cents, and Pablo Perez-Fernandez, a RIM bull, was at 77 cents. The company now offering a revenue range of $2.23 billion to $2.3 billion, nicely above the Street's expectation of $2.017 billion.

RIM shares spiked on the news but are pulling back from their highs, but that's likely because this stock has seen such a big run in a very short period of time leading up to these earnings numbers. Nonetheless, RIM appears to be building on the significant momentum it has enjoyed over the past week or two.

In a statement from the company, co-CEO Jim Balsillie says:

"We are pleased to report another year of very strong growth with shipments of approximately 14 million BlackBerry smart phones and total revenue of $6 billion. Heightened retail activities helped drive exceptional subscriber growth during the fourth quarter with net subscriber account additions growing more than 32 percent over the previous quarter and well over 2 million net subscriber accounts added in a single quarter for the first time. Looking forward, the prospects for RIM and the industry are more exciting than ever and we will continue to work closely with a thriving ecosystem of partners to build on our momentum during the year ahead."

That's the kind of optimism shareholders have been waiting for. Now, let's see what the company has to say about a touch screen BlackBerry 9000 and the migration to 3G.

Update: And a quick word about "whisper numbers." The number this time around was 76 cents and even though RIM beat expectations soundly, it didn't measure up to the whisper wafting through the Street, so that might be seen as a disappointment. How much? Well, the folks at whispernumber.com, who track such things, say that on average, in the past, with RIM falling short of the whisper, shares suffer an 11 percent decline over the next 30 trading days beginning with the open tomorrow. Something interesting to keep in mind, and for what it's worth.

Questions? Comments? TechCheck@cnbc.com

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