BlackBerry Ltd. unveiled an ultra high-end version of its unpopular Z10 smartphone Tuesday as its stock sank deeper into the bargain bin, at one point hitting its lowest level in more than 10 years.
In early trading on Wednesday, the stop recovered modestly.
The company said it had teamed up with Porsche Design to create the P’9982, “exquisitely fashioned from high-quality materials” with a frame forged from the “finest quality stainless steel, complemented by a hand-wrapped genuine Italian leather back door.”
The phone will be sold in Selfridges, the upscale London department store, for £1,400 ($2,363), later this month. BlackBerry has produced customized, high-end phones for ultra-wealthy users in the past, and Alistair Hamilton, senior vice-president of design at BlackBerry said in a release that "every aspect of this smartphone has been purposely designed and built for a powerful premium experience."
The luxury phone did nothing to allay concerns about the company’s precarious position amid a year of collapsing sales, deep cost cuts and layoffs, an aborted takeover bid and an abrupt CEO change earlier this month. BlackBerry stock closed at $6.08 (U.S.), down 1.5 per cent on the Nasdaq Tuesday, at one point sinking to $5.98, its lowest level since Sept. 25, 2003, adjusting for stock splits.
“I don’t think you’ll see a whole lot of investor confidence” until new CEO John Chen has had three-to-six months to put a turnaround plan in motion, said industry analyst Jack Gold. “It’s going to take him some time. Can the new management come in and right the ship? It’s too early to tell. The good news is the stock hasn’t gone down to $2 a share.”
BlackBerry’s largest investor, Fairfax Financial Holdings, struck a conditional deal in September to buy the company for $9 a share, but backed out earlier this month, agreeing instead to lead a $1-billion convertible debenture refinancing. The stock, which had traded well below the offer price in the face of investor skepticism, has sagged further since the refinancing, which could dilute the shares by as much as 24 per cent if all debenture holders convert their debt to stock.