BlackBerry’s Subscriber Growth an Important Factor for Q4 FY2013 Earnings

BlackBerry’s Subscriber Growth an Important Factor for Q4 FY2013 Earnings

BlackBerry is set to to announce their Q4 FY2013 earnings on March 28th. Within the last few months the company’s stock has more than doubled on growing optimism for BlackBerry 10.

The initial demand for BlackBerry 10 has been a “surprise” to CEO Thorsten Heins. Surprisingly, the first BlackBerry 10 device, BlackBerry Z10, had sold out within two days in emerging markets like India.

Though, keep in mind the BlackBerry Z10 had only been available for about a third of the quarter. This will likely result in poorer than expected results.

As Tefris from Seeking Alpha opines, one of the biggest metrics to look at in the Q4 results will be subscriber growth. “This is because despite BlackBerry’s waning popularity in the developed markets, the company has managed to tap the international markets to add subscribers every single quarter in the past year, except the last one. In Q3, BlackBerry lost a million subscribers as demand in emerging markets dropped to the extent that it was unable to compensate for the sustained subscriber erosion in the U.S. and the U.K. It will be unfair to expect the BB10′s launch in a few developed markets to have turned the tide, but the extent of subscriber loss in Q4 will give investors a sense of what is happening in the emerging markets, where cheap Android smartphones are getting more popular and WhatsApp is fast emerging as an alternative to BBM. If the subscriber loss deepens, BlackBerry will need to push out cheaper BB10 models soon, in order to stabilize its business at the low-end, or risk a much larger collapse in market share.”

Additionally, it will be important to keep note of their cash position. BlackBerry has had close to $2 Billion in cash reserves, with an expectation to save over $1 Billion by the end of FY2013.

Although, BlackBerry has likely begun to burn through some of these cash reserves as it markets BlackBerry 10 and builds channel inventory. A continued use of the cash is likely to complete the rollout of the entire BlackBerry 10 device portfolio in 2013.

BlackBerry 10 is now nearly 100% to market. Though, it will still be an uphill battle for the company. However, if BlackBerry can continue to preserve cash reserves despite operating losses and manage to keep the hype and demand BlackBerry 10, we could see much better results by next quarter’s earnings call.

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