TORONTO—Research In Motion Ltd. RIMM +0.44% announced a series of high level
departures, including former chief executive Jim Balsillie's resignation from the board, as the BlackBerry maker reported a $125 million loss in the fiscal fourth quarter.
RIM said the Waterloo, Ontario, company achieved a record 77 million BlackBerry subscribers world-wide, but another quarter of falling shipments of the device underscored the challenges still ahead. In a statement accompanying results, CEO Thorsten Heins said he would take a "broad strategic review of opportunities, including partnerships and joint ventures, licensing, and other ways to leverage RIM's assets and maximize value for our stakeholders."
In the past, he has signaled he wasn't interested in selling the company. And RIM's statement mirrored previous comments about seeking out partnerships.
In a conference call after the earnings announcement, Mr. Heins acknowledged deep problems, but he also said the best way to deliver value to shareholders is to turn the company around, suggesting he still wasn't ready to entertain a sale of the company.
"It is now very clear to me that substantial change is what RIM needs," he said in the call. Still, he added later in the call, that he and his team "truly believe the best path for RIM is to manage the turnaround."
Investors immediately sold off RIM shares in after-hours trading, with the stock falling as much as 9% immediately after trading was resumed. But within an hour, the stock recouped almost much of its losses. In late New York trading, RIM was down 1.9% at $13.47.
Mr. Heins has said his turnaround plan hinges on a successful rollout this year of RIM's next-generation smartphone, the BlackBerry 10. He said Thursday that roll-out was still on track for later this year.
RIM said it would no longer provide earnings guidance "due to a desire to focus on long term value creation."
Analysts had expected another rough quarter, as RIM struggles with falling BlackBerry sales and a costly and so-far unsuccessful entry into the tablet market. But the high-level departures were a surprise.
RIM said its chief operating officer, Jim Rowan, and its chief technology officer, David Yach, would be leaving the company.
Mr. Heins said the company is looking for replacements for the two departing senior executives. He has also pledged to appoint a high-powered chief marketing officer. He said Thursday that search was "going well."
RIM's former chief executive, Jim Balsillie, resigned from the board of the BlackBerry maker.
RIM reported a net loss of $125 million, or 24 cents a share, in the quarter ended March 3. That's down from net income of $934 million, or $1.78 a share, in the year-earlier period. RIM said it would take a non-cash, goodwill charge of $355 million and a $267 million inventory impairment related to its latest line of BlackBerrys.
Revenue was $4.19 billion, down about 25% from $5.56 billion in the same period last year. Adjusted earnings per share, which excludes one-time gains or losses including the good-will impairment, was 80 cents, below a consensus forecast of 81 cents a share, compiled by Thomson Reuters.
RIM said it shipped just 11.1 million BlackBerrys in the quarter, down 21% from the previous quarter. After heavily discounting its PlayBook tablet, and taking a nearly half-billion dollar charge related to inventory build-up of the device last year, RIM said it had sold 500,000 units.
That's the best quarter for the tablet since the first three-month period immediately after its debut.
Mr. Heins took over from former chiefs Mr. Balsillie and RIM co-founder Mike Lazaridis in January after months of investor pressure for a boardroom shake-up. Analysts were expecting Thursday's earnings report, and following conference call, to provide him with his first opportunity to step out of their shadows.
RIM continues to struggle with severe smartphone market-share erosion, amid competition from Apple Inc.'s AAPL -1.26% iPhone and devices running Google Inc.'s
GOOG -1.12% Android operating system.