Some industry watchers had high hopes for BlackBerry’s (BBRY) first next-generation smartphone in its debut quarter, but it looks like they may have gotten ahead of themselves. Now, the Street is revising its estimates in light of a slower than expected rollout and what appears to be a softer launch than many had hoped for.
Canaccord Genuity analyst T. Michael Walkley had initially called for BlackBerry to sell about 1.75 million BlackBerry Z10 smartphones in the February quarter. But after his checks following the phone’s launch in the UK and Canada found limited initial supply and softer than expected demand, the analyst slashed his estimates for the current quarter from 1.75 million units to just 300,000.
“Our global surveys post the recent BlackBerry Z10 launch indicated mixed initial sales with limited initial supply cited as the reason for early post-launch stock-outs at some carrier stores rather than overwhelming demand,” Walkley wrote in a note to investors. “Our follow-up checks have indicated steady but modest sales levels. With new BB10 smartphones launching in the U.S. only in mid-March or later at subsidized prices no better than competing high-end Apple/Samsung smartphones, combined with our expectations for the Galaxy S IV to launch at a similar time frame in the US market, we are lowering our BB10 sales estimates for the February quarter and all of F2014.”
The analyst continued, noting that “modest Z10 sales into the channel in the U.K. and Canada” were largely responsible for his decision to lower his Z10 sales estimates by 83% for the February quarter. Moving forward, Walkley believes things will remain bleak for BlackBerry.
“We believe carrier support for BlackBerry 10 in the U.S. is modest, as demonstrated by Sprint only planning to launch the Q10 and T-Mobile only the Z10,” he wrote. “Further, we anticipate carriers will not build large inventory levels for BB10, consistent with prior BB7 high-end launches, and will initially stock modest levels given the weaker consumer demand for high-end BlackBerry smartphones.”
Walkley continued, “With our expectations BB10 smartphones will face increasing competition from a host of new Android and Windows smartphones and potentially a new iPhone in 1H/C2013, we anticipate global carrier partners will order cautious initial BB10 inventory levels, leading us to lower our Feb. quarter and F2014 BB10 estimates.”
Canaccord maintained its Sell rating on BlackBerry shares with a $9 price target.