Blackberry shares jump on surprise $23m profit

BlackBerry phones Blackberry hopes it can turn the corner under boss John Chen

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Shares in Blackberry closed up 9.6% on Wall Street after the troubled smartphone maker reported a surprise profit.

Net profit for the three months to the end of March was $23m (£14m), compared with an $84m loss a year earlier. Revenue was down 69% at $966m.

Cost-cutting and higher profit margins helped the company offset the big drop in revenues.

Blackberry is trying to fight back after losing market share.

This week, it agreed a deal to license Android applications from Amazon's app store.

Excluding a one-off accountancy gain and restructuring charges, the company made an adjusted loss of $60m during the quarter. Gross profit margins were 46.7%, up from 33.9% a year ago.

'On track'

Under new boss John Chen, the company has embarked on a turnaround plan aimed at focusing more on its services arm, while putting a renewed emphasis on its keyboard devices.

"Our performance [in the quarter] demonstrates that we are firmly on track to achieve important milestones, including our financial objectives and delivering a strong product portfolio," said Mr Chen, who took over the company in November last year.

"Over the past six months, we have focused on improving efficiency in all aspects of our operations to drive cost reductions and margin improvement. Looking forward, we are focusing on our growth plan to enable our return to profitability."

'Still relevant'

Analysts were pleasantly surprised by the latest results.

"The numbers certainly aren't great, but they could have been much worse," said investment research firm Morningstar's Brian Colello.

Colin Gillis at BGC Partners said the new boss was doing all the right things.

"He's right-sizing the business to fit demand, focusing on the areas where [the company] is still relevant. He's cut partnerships to shore up weaknesses," he said.

"If they can get this business where they are selling a million phones a month, they'll be a nice little niche. It will be a nice little profitable business."

The company sold 2.6 million smartphones during the first three months of this year.

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