BlackBerry predicts turnaround

BlackBerry on Friday reported it narrowed its loss in the latest quarter, and expressed optimism that its major restructuring and new business-friendly devices would help fuel a turnaround.

Releasing fiscal second-quarter results, chief executive John Chen said the struggling Waterloo, Ontario-based smartphone and tech group could return to profitability next year.

In a statement he expressed confidence that the company would “achieve breakeven cash flow” by the end of the fiscal year, following a “solid” second quarter.

“Our workforce restructuring is now complete, and we are focusing on revenue growth with judicious investments to further our leadership position in enterprise mobility and security,” he said, adding that he expects profitability excluding special charges in the next fiscal year.

For the three months ended August 30, BlackBerry posted a loss of $207 million on $916 billion in revenues largely split between sales of services and software and more than two million smartphones.

Its adjusted loss excluding restructuring charges was $11 million, or two cents per share.

Analysts had forecast a loss of 16 cents per share for the quarter.

On Wednesday, BlackBerry launched its newest Passport smartphone geared at winning back business customers.

Named for its approximate size to the travel document, the phone was designed to win back key corporate users after BlackBerry was effectively knocked out of the highly competitive consumer smartphone market dominated by Apple and Samsung.

The phone boasts a full keyboard, large screen, a 30-hour battery, a “virtual assistant” with voice-recognition, and a speakerphone with “louder, clearer and sharper sound” than the competition.

It is the third of four new phones to be launched by BlackBerry this year, after a budget Z3 smartphone was launched in Indonesia (one of its last bastions), and a Porsche-designed luxury phone sold in Dubai.

The Z3 was the first to be produced from the Canadian firm’s partnership with Taiwanese tech giant Foxconn, which also makes gadgets for Apple.

The partnership involved transferring manufacturing and inventory management to the Taiwanese company, while allowing BlackBerry to focus on software and services.

The upcoming BlackBerry Classic — which will be similar to the Passport — will be launched “between now and the end of the year,” Chen said at a recent event in Toronto.

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BlackBerry predicts turnaround