Riding on software and services, beats expectations

Canadian firm BlackBerry reported better-than-expected adjusted earnings for the sixth straight quarter, as the smartphone pioneer`s shift to the higher-margin software business paid off

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Canadian communication technology firm BlackBerry reported better-than-expected adjusted earnings for the sixth straight quarter, as the smartphone pioneer`s shift to the higher-margin software business paid off. Company said it expects to be profitable on an adjusted basis for the second year in a row, and generate positive free cash flow in the year ending February 2018.

The Q4, non-GAAP revenue for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2017 was $297 million with GAAP revenue of $286 million. Approximately 80% of the fourth quarter software & services segment revenue (excluding IP licensing and professional services) was recurring. BlackBerry had over 3,500 enterprise customer orders in the quarter, said company.

Non-GAAP operating income was $13 million, and non-GAAP earnings per share was $0.04.  GAAP net loss for the quarter was $47 million, or ($0.09) per basic share. GAAP operating loss was $57 million, which includes $28 million in amortization of acquired intangibles, $25 million in restructuring charges, a benefit of $16 million of fair value adjustment related to the debentures and other amounts as summarized in a table below.

Total cash, cash equivalents, short-term and long-term investments increased by $89 million to approximately $1.7 billion as of February 28, 2017. This reflects free cash flow of $16 million, which includes cash flow from operations of $19 million. Excluding $605 million in the face value of the Company’s debt, the net cash balance at the end of the quarter was approximately $1.1 billion. There were no purchase orders with contract manufacturers at the end of the fourth quarter, compared to $35 million at the end of the third quarter and down from $162 million a year ago.

“Our Q4 results came in at or above expectations in all major metrics,” said , Executive Chairman and CEO, BlackBerry. “In the quarter, we continued to grow our mix of software and services revenue across the company. In turn, this allowed us to expand our operating margin and report positive free cash flow. In addition, our balance sheet continues to strengthen and benefit from reduced capital requirements with our focus on software and licensing.”

“In our enterprise business, we had one of our best-ever software billings quarters, driven by strength across regulated and non-regulated industries.  Enhancing our position in public sector, we recently achieved FedRAMP certification for the U.S. government. In appliances, we won new business and secured six new customer trials for Radar. We demonstrated our autonomous driving technology platform at CES 2017. In mobile software licensing, we signed our third major agreement, and we now have global coverage. We are entering the next phase in sub-licensing our secure software to a variety of new mobile endpoints. We also entered the CPaaS market with the launch of our BBM Enterprise Software Development Kit, which will expand our addressable opportunity in a high growth segment,” said Chen.

“Looking ahead to fiscal 2018, we expect to grow at or above the overall market in our software business. We also expect to be profitable on a non-GAAP basis and to generate positive free cash flow for the full year.”

Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry has focussed on building a robust software business after scrapping production of its once-iconic , which lost favour with the arrival of sleek and fully touchscreen handsets. The company outsourced the development of its last year, signing a deal with Indonesia`s BB Merah Putih to make and distribute new BlackBerry-branded devices. It has also signed similar deals with China`s TCL and India-based Optiemus Infracom Ltd.

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