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People buy BlackBerry phones at a shop in ITC Ambassador shopping mall in Jakarta. (Dimas Ardian for The Globe And Mail)
People buy BlackBerry phones at a shop in ITC Ambassador shopping mall in Jakarta. (Dimas Ardian for The Globe And Mail)

RIM revenue misses target Add to ...

BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion Ltd. posted fourth-quarter results that were slightly below expectations, sending its stock down by as much as 8 per cent in after-hours trading.

The Waterloo, Ont.-based tech giant, which reported after markets closed on Wednesday, reported a quarterly profit of $710.1-million (U.S.), or $1.27 per diluted share, up from $518.3-million, or 90 cents per share, a year earlier.

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That was within the company's target between $1.23 and $1.31 a share, and close to analysts' predictions of $1.28 per share.

But quarterly revenue was well below the company's guidance of between $4.2-billion and $4.4-billion, and short of the $4.31-billion forecast by analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters.

RIM's co-chief executive officer Jim Balsillie blamed the lower-than-expected revenue on the result of inventory adjustments, and said that growth remains strong.

"We made great strides in penetrating international markets," said Mr. Balsillie on a conference call after releasing the results.

Year-end growth was more positive, with the company's revenue up 35 per cent to $15-billion and profit up nearly 30 per cent to $2.46-billion.

Shares in RIM, which reported its results after the close of markets, closed down $1.01 (Canadian) at $75.25 on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The shares were down $4.10 (U.S.) to $69.87 in after-hours trading in the United States.

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The company shipped 10.5 million devices in the latest quarter and added approximately 4.9 million net new BlackBerry subscriber accounts to bring the subscriber account base to more than 41 million.

Analysts had been bullish on RIM, predicting a good quarter, in line with the company's guidance. The company's new BlackBerry Bold 9700 drove some of the growth, as it launched with 38 providers in 13 international markets, according to analyst Phillip Huang with UBS Investment Research.

RIM has traditionally served the corporate enterprise market, which largely continues to favour the efficient, reliable BlackBerry over other smart phones.

But recent quarters have vindicated the company's aggressive growth strategy in two other areas: average consumers, as opposed to enterprise clients, and developing markets outside RIM's traditional North American base.

International sales have continued to drive RIM's growth, as the company moves into relatively untapped smart phone markets in China and South Asia. As the smart phone market becomes increasingly crowded in North America and Europe, analysts have been looking at RIM's overseas expansion for future growth.

"That's where the opportunities lie in terms of opening up new doors and new smart phone sales," said Forrester Research analyst Michele Pelino.

In December, RIM announced two new deals in China, a distribution partnership with Digital China Holdings Ltd. and an agreement with China Mobile Ltd., which has more subscribers than any carrier in the world.

But RIM has also staked out territory in the consumer market by introducing lower-cost models such as the BlackBerry Pearl and Curve.

And RIM has tried to stabilize its position in a crowded U.S. smart phone market. Companies such as Apple Inc., Palm Inc. and HTC Corp. have continued to muscle in with sleek, innovative devices. RIM hopes that by lowering the price-point of the BlackBerry brand, the company can lure more budget-conscious users who love sending SMS texts with the BlackBerry's signature QWERTY-keyboard.

With files from The Canadian Press

Follow on Twitter: @iainmarlow

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