There is no way to sugarcoat today’s announcement from the once-great Blackberry-maker RIM. The company is, after years of putting its head in the sand, finally taking drastic measures to change course, including getting rid of former Co-CEO and current board member Jim Balsillie and its CTO and COO (loooong overdue). Revenues are way down—and so are unit sales and prospects.

So, where is the way out of this mess? RIM says it is looking for “strategic business-model alternatives.” It is also considering a sale. Where is there any value in the company?

RIM’s current devices are taking a nosedive in value and are simultaneously falling in sales numbers. BlackBerry 10, even if it is amazing (and when is the last time anything amazing came out of Waterloo?), still has an uphill battle against iOS, Android, and Microsoft who is also fighting to get out of that “other” category. The low-end is being slammed by cheap Androids while Apple is sucking up the corporate and high-end market.

The Smartphone market is rapidly turning into an iOS/Android duopoly.

The first fruits of that QNX labor, the PlayBook, sold 500,000 units last quarter…and that was at drastically below build-costs pricing. RIM says the first BlackBerry 10 devices will be available in late 2012, which is a year later than needed.

Even its’ once ubiquitous Blackberry Enterprise Servers that sit between corporate Mail servers and carriers/mobile devices are now obsolete.

And, as slow as IT departments are at change (the reason anyone still has a Blackberry), one whiff of a sale/bankruptcy/loss of support is enough to get even the most complacent chief information officer to change vendors.

That is what’s happening today. When a company that is already in dire striates starts shedding executives and making desperate efforts, you start looking for different solutions.

Steve Jobs said in a conference call a few years ago that Apple considered Blackberry “in the rear view mirror.” Perhaps he realized that not even somebody with his own turn-around talents could rescue RIM.

The press release follows:

Research In Motion Reports Year-End and Fourth Quarter Results for Fiscal 2012

WATERLOO, ONTARIO–(Marketwire – March 29, 2012) - Research In Motion Limited (RIM) (NASDAQ:RIMM)(TSX:RIM), a world leader in the mobile communications market, today reported fourth quarter results for the three months and fiscal year ended March 3, 2012 (all figures in U.S. dollars and U.S. GAAP, except where otherwise indicated).

Highlights:

  • $2.1 billion in cash, cash equivalents, short-term and long-term investments at the end of the quarter, which increased by approximately $610 million in the quarter
  • Cash flow from operations of approximately $1.1 billion, up from approximately $900 million in Q3
  • Revenue of $4.2 billion, down 19% from the third quarter
  • GAAP net loss in Q4 of $125 million or $0.24 per share diluted; adjusted net income of $418 million or $0.80 per share diluted
  • BlackBerry smartphone shipments of 11.1 million in Q4, down 21% from Q3
  • RIM to discontinue providing specific quantitative guidance
  • RIM provides update on organizational changes

Q4 Results:

Revenue for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012 was $4.2 billion, down 19% from $5.2 billion in the previous quarter and down 25% from $5.6 billion in the same quarter of fiscal 2011. The revenue breakdown for the quarter was approximately 68% for hardware, 27% for service and 5% for software and other revenue. During the quarter, RIM shipped approximately 11.1 million BlackBerry smartphones and over 500,000 BlackBerry PlayBook tablets.

“I have assessed many aspects of RIM’s business during my first 10 weeks as CEO. I have confirmed that the Company has substantial strengths that can be further leveraged to improve our financial performance, including RIM’s global network infrastructure, a strong enterprise offering and a large and growing base of more than 77 million subscribers. I’m very excited about the prospects for the BlackBerry 10 platform, which is on track for the latter part of calendar 2012. Notwithstanding these strengths and opportunities, the business challenges we face over the next several quarters are significant and I am taking the necessary steps to address them,” said Thorsten Heins, President & CEO of Research In Motion. “In addition to delivering the BlackBerry 10 platform and refocusing resources on RIM’s key opportunities, such as BlackBerry Mobile Fusion and new integrated service offerings, we will also drive greater operational performance through a variety of initiatives including increased management accountability and process discipline. In parallel, we are undertaking a comprehensive review of strategic opportunities including partnerships and joint ventures, licensing, and other ways to leverage RIM’s assets and maximize value for our stakeholders.”

The Company’s GAAP net loss for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012 was $125 million, or $0.24 per share diluted, compared with GAAP net income of $265 million, or $0.51 per share diluted, in the prior quarter and GAAP net income of $934 million, or $1.78 per share diluted, in the same quarter of fiscal 2011. Adjusted net income for the fourth quarter was $418 million, or $0.80 per share diluted. Adjusted net income and adjusted diluted earnings per share for the fourth quarter exclude the impact of pre-tax charges of $355 million which are predominantly non-cash ($346 million after tax) for the impairment of goodwill and $267 million ($197 million after-tax) for an inventory provision taken primarily on certain BlackBerry7 products. These charges and their related impacts on GAAP net income and diluted earnings per share are summarized in the tables below.

Reconciliation of GAAP gross margin, gross margin percentage, net income and diluted EPS to adjusted gross margin, gross margin percentage, net income and diluted EPS:

(United States dollars, in millions except per share data)

For the quarter ended March 3, 2012
Gross Margin(1) (before taxes) Gross Margin %(1)(before taxes) Net Income or (Loss) Diluted EPS
As reported $ 1,401 33.4 % $ (125 ) (0.24 )
Adjustments:
Impairment of Goodwill(2) - - 346 0.66
Inventory Provision(3) 267 6.4 % 197 0.38
Adjusted $ 1,668 39.8 % $ 418 $ 0.80
Note: Adjusted gross margin, adjusted net income and adjusted diluted earnings per share do not have a standardized meaning prescribed by GAAP and thus are not comparable to similarly titled measures presented by other issuers. The Company believes that the presentation of adjusted gross margin, adjusted gross margin percentage, adjusted net income and adjusted diluted earnings per share enables the Company and its shareholders to better assess RIM’s operating results relative to its operating results in prior periods and improves the comparability of the information presented. Investors should consider these non-GAAP measures in the context of RIM’s GAAP results.
(1) During the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012, the Company reported GAAP gross margin of $1.4 billion or 33.4% of revenue. Excluding the impact of charges primarily related to inventory valuation of certain BlackBerry 7 products, the adjusted gross margin was $1.7 billion, or 39.8% of revenue.
(2) Subsequent to the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012, the Company performed a goodwill impairment test and based on the results of that test, the Company recorded a non-cash pre-tax goodwill impairment charge of $355 million, $346 million after tax.
(3) During the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012, the Company recorded a pre-tax provision of approximately $267 million, $197 million after tax, which was mostly non-cash, primarily related to its inventory valuation of certain BlackBerry 7 products.

The total of cash, cash equivalents, short-term and long-term investments was $2.1 billion as of March 3, 2012, compared to $1.5 billion at the end of the previous quarter, an increase of approximately $610 million from the prior quarter. Cash flow from operations in Q4 was approximately $1.1 billion, up from $900 million in Q3. Uses of cash included intangible asset additions of approximately $260 million and capital expenditures of approximately $190 million.

Fiscal 2012 Results

Revenue for the fiscal year ended March 3, 2012 was $18.4 billion, down 7% from $19.9 billion in fiscal 2011. The Company’s GAAP net income for fiscal 2012 was $1.2 billion, or $2.22 per share diluted, compared with GAAP net income of $3.4 billion, or $6.34 per share diluted in fiscal 2011. Adjusted net income for fiscal 2012 was $2.2 billion, or $4.20 per share diluted. Adjusted net income and adjusted diluted earnings per share for fiscal 2012 exclude the adjustments described above as well as the impact of pre-tax charges of $54 million ($40 million after tax) to revenue related to the service interruption experienced in the third quarter, $485 million ($356 million after tax) for the PlayBook inventory provision taken in the third quarter and $125 million ($96 million after tax) for the Company’s cost optimization program that was implemented in the second quarter of fiscal 2012. These charges and their related impacts on GAAP net income and diluted earnings per share are summarized in the tables below.

Reconciliation of GAAP revenue, gross margin, gross margin percentage, net income and diluted EPS to adjusted revenue, gross margin, gross margin percentage, net income, and diluted EPS:

(United States dollars, in millions except per share data)

For the year ended March 3, 2012
Revenue (before taxes) Gross Margin(1)(before taxes) Gross Margin%(1)(before taxes) Net Income Diluted EPS
As reported $ 18,435 $ 6,579 35.7 % $ 1,164 $ 2.22
Adjustments:
PlayBook Inventory Provision(2) - 485 2.6 % 356 0.68
Cost Optimization Program(3) - 14 - 96 0.18
Q3 Service Interruption(4) 54 54 0.3 % 40 0.08
Impairment of Goodwill(5) - - - 346 0.66
Inventory Provision(6) 19 267 1.4 % 197 0.38
Adjusted $ 18,508 $ 7,399 40.0 % $ 2,199 $ 4.20
Note: Adjusted revenue, adjusted gross margin, adjusted gross margin percentage, adjusted net income and adjusted diluted earnings per share do not have a standardized meaning prescribed by GAAP and thus are not comparable to similarly titled measures presented by other issuers. The Company believes that the presentation of adjusted revenue, adjusted gross margin, adjusted gross margin percentage, adjusted net income and adjusted diluted earnings per share enables the Company and its shareholders to better assess RIM’s operating results relative to its operating results in prior periods and improves the comparability of the information presented. Investors should consider these non-GAAP measures in the context of RIM’s GAAP results.
(1) During fiscal 2012, the Company reported GAAP gross margin of $6.6 billion, or 35.7% of revenue. Excluding the impact of charges related to the PlayBook Inventory Provision, the Cost Optimization Program, the Q3 Service Interruption and the Inventory Provision, the adjusted gross margin was $7.4 billion, or 40.0% of revenue.
(2) During fiscal 2012, the Company recorded a pre-tax provision of approximately $485 million, $356 million after tax, related to its inventory valuation of BlackBerry PlayBook tablets. The charge was predominantly non-cash.
(3) Cost of sales, research and development, and selling, marketing and administration expenses in fiscal 2012 included approximately $11 million, $18 million, and $67 million, respectively, in after-tax charges related to the cost optimization program to streamline operations across the Company.
(4) During fiscal 2012, the Company experienced a service interruption which resulted in the loss of service revenue and the payment of service credits totally approximately $54 million, approximately $40 million after tax, related to the interruption in the availability of the Company’s network.
(5) Subsequent to fiscal 2012, the Company performed a goodwill impairment test and based on the results of that test, the Company recorded a non-cash pre-tax goodwill impairment charge of approximately $355 million, approximately $346 after tax.
(6) In the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012, the Company recorded a pre-tax provision of approximately $267 million, $197 million after tax, which was mostly non-cash, primarily related to its inventory valuation of certain BlackBerry 7 products.

Change to Guidance Practices and Outlook:

The company expects continued pressure on revenue and earnings throughout fiscal 2013. Due to a desire to focus on long term value creation and the current business environment, RIM will no longer provide specific quantitative guidance. Some of the factors contributing to this include, ongoing weakness in the Company’s U.S. smartphone business, an increased focus on selling BlackBerry 7 smartphones to grow the subscriber base in advance of the BlackBerry 10 launch, increasing competitive pressure in the Company’s international markets and the introduction of certain new lower tier service pricing initiatives and a higher mix of sales coming from entry level products.

Organizational and Board of Directors Update:

Jim Balsillie, former Co-CEO of the Company, has resigned as a Director on the Company’s Board.

“As I complete my retirement from RIM, I’m grateful for this remarkable experience and for the opportunity to have worked with outstanding professionals who helped turn a Canadian idea into a global success,” said Jim Balsillie.

“On behalf of the Board and everyone at RIM, I would like to thank Jim for his 20 years of service to RIM,” said Barb Stymiest, Chair of RIM’s Board of Directors. “His energy, drive and enthusiasm helped build one of the most successful technology companies of our time.”

In addition, David Yach will be retiring from his role as CTO, Software after 13 years with the Company and after 4 years with the company and following an open dialogue on the future of global operations, Jim Rowan, COO, Global Operations, has decided to pursue other interests. The Company is currently undertaking a search to hire a single COO with responsibilities to run the Company’s operations.

“RIM would like to thank David Yach and Jim Rowan for their years of service and many contributions to RIM,” said Thorsten Heins, President and CEO. “We wish them well in their future pursuits.”

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