RIM becomes a $10 billion company

Ends fiscal year with big gains in revenues, profits, subscribers

Research In Motion is going strong despite an economy in recession, for the first time surpassing US$10 billion in revenue for the fiscal year just ended.

The BlackBerry creator late yesterday reported a big fourth quarter and forecast a first quarter profit that beat analysts' estimates, according to a Bloomberg.com story.

Revenue for Q4 2009 came in at US$3.46 billion, nearly 25% over the previous quarter and 84% over the same period last year. The company shipped about 7.8 million devices in the quarter, and about 26 million for fiscal 2009. For the entire fiscal year, revenue was just over US$11 billion, up an astonishing 84% from the $6 billion of last year.

The company reported 3.9 million net new BlackBerry subscriber accounts added in Q4, bringing the total number to about 25 million.

RIM reported quarterly net income of $518 million, or $0.90 per share diluted. That compared to $396 million ($0.69 per share diluted) for Q3, and to $412 million ($0.72) for Q4 fiscal 2008.

For the full 2009 fiscal year, net income was $1.89 billion ($3.30 per share diluted), an increase of 46% over fiscal 2008.

Bloomberg reported that RIM's stock price took off on the news, rising over $11 to just over $60 per share in after-hours trading.

RIM said it expects its gross margin for Q4 will be 43% to 44%, or several points ahead of what some analysts had expected.

The results show the success of the company's efforts last year to broaden the appeal of BlackBerry devices, which had their initial success as mobile e-mail devices for corporate executives and road warriors. Last year, the company introduced a range of new smartphone offerings, including the 3G/Wi-Fi Bold, the touch-screen BlackBerry Storm and lower-priced models like the Pearl Flip, specifically targeting consumers.

But the same advances, such as the Storm's touchscreen and improved Web browser, are drawing interest also from enterprise IT groups and users.

The company just unveiled its online applications catalog, BlackBerry App World, where subscribers can find, buy and download BlackBerry applications.

RIM currently predicts its first quarter for fiscal 2010 will show revenues of between $3.3 billion and $3.5 billion, with gross margins similar to those of the just-ended quarter. The company said it expects to add between 3.7 million and 3.9 million new net subscribers.

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John Cox

Network World
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