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BlackBerry is back from the dead

Updated Jun 28th, 2013 2:26PM EDT
BlackBerry Earnings Preview

BlackBerry has been a source of contention in recent months, as the company struggles back to regain some of its former luster in the ever-changing smartphone industry. With shares up more than 25% year-to-date, it looks like BlackBerry is on its way back, though it still undoubtedly faces an uphill battle.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters are expecting the Waterloo, Ontario-based company to earn 6 cents per share on $3.36 billion in sales for the fiscal first quarter of 2014.

BlackBerry is set to report fiscal first-quarter earnings on Friday before the bell, and though recent news from the company has largely been positive, especially as it pertains to BlackBerry 10 device sales, some on the Street are cautiously bullish going forward.

“We expect BlackBerry to show signs of slowly rebuilding the brand, in a slow but steady two steps forward, one step back fashion,” wrote Morgan Stanley analyst Ehud Gelblum in a research note. “We expect bullish strong BB10 shipments to slightly outweigh weaker BB7 units and the lack of proof of BB10 sell-thru tilting the risk / reward positive given the sky-high short interest without yet conclusively determining the LT fate of the company.” Gelblum rates shares Overweight, and recently upped his price target to $22, from $10.

Sales of the BlackBerry Z10 and BlackBerry Q10 have been better than most are expecting, despite BlackBerry being late to the game. It’s now firmly behind Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems in the smartphone battle, and may never be more than a niche player. That’s good enough for now, with Wall Street reacting positively to recent moves.

Morgan Stanley’s Gelblum now expects that 3.5 million BlackBerry 10 devices were sold in the first-quarter, up from an original estimate of 3 million.

Citigroup’s Jim Suva, who has a Sell rating and $10 price target on BlackBerry, expects that the company will ship 7.25 million units, with 3.25 million of them being BlackBerry 10 devices. He’s cautiously optimistic that his results and consensus estimates could be conservative, based on recent data.

“Given the channel drawdown over the past few quarters, we note potential for sell in ahead of global Z10 availability & Q10 launch (in UK, Canada, Germany and Australia during late April/early May and in US, India and Africa in late May to mid June) could result in a positive surprise to units that were sold into the channel,” Suva wrote in a recent note to clients.

With approximately 25% of the shares held short, any upside surprise could send BlackBerry’s stock soaring. We’ll find out Friday morning whether BlackBerry is indeed back from the dead for good, or if the vendor’s struggles may soon begin to worsen yet again.