BlackBerry Poised for Comeback but Still Has Long Way to Go

When BlackBerry reports its quarterly earnings later this week, the Waterloo-based smartphone pioneer is expected to snap a five-quarter streak of declining shipments and post its first year-over-year sales increase in two years.

Analysts estimate that the Canadian company delivered close to eight million smartphones to customers in the three months ending in May, up from just six million units in the prior quarter. Driving this charge is the Q10, which most analysts agree is outselling the Z10. The Q10 is the only high-end smartphone on the market today with a full physical keyboard, giving BlackBerry a unique competitive advantage.

“The die-hard BlackBerry installed base of 76 million subscribers loyal to the keyboard presents a strong upgrade opportunity,” Maynard Um, a Wells Fargo & Co. analyst., who rates the stock the equivalent of a buy, told Bloomberg.

“The new BlackBerry handsets are holding up reasonably well against a number of recently released handsets,” Andy Perkins, an analyst at Societe Generale SA who also rates BlackBerry a buy, told Bloomberg.

BlackBerry replaced its co-CEO pair of Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie with Thorsten Heins in January 2012. Under Heins’ reign, BlackBerry has reduced operating costs by $1 billion, cut six of 10 manufacturing sites, eliminated 5,000 jobs, and hired several new C-suite executives. Oh, and he sold a corporate jet.

However, BlackBerry’s recovery has a long way to go. The company’s global smartphone marketshare sits below 3%, down from more than 6% last year.