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BlackBerry will ask regulators to investigate analyst who made false return rate claims

Published Apr 12th, 2013 9:10AM EDT
BlackBerry Z10 False Claims

BlackBerry (BBRY) is very unhappy with Detwiler Fenton analyst Jeff Johnston. The company is accusing Johnston of making false claims about BlackBerry Z10 return rates in the U.S. and it plans to ask regulators in both the United States and Canada to launch a formal investigation into the matter. Johnston on Thursday claimed that “key retail partners have seen a significant increase in Z10 returns to the point where, in several cases, returns are now exceeding sales, a phenomenon we have never seen before.” BlackBerry Chief Legal Officer Steve Zipperstein says that these claims are “materially false and misleading” and says that they were “deliberately purveyed for the purpose of influencing the markets.” BlackBerry’s full press release is posted below.

BlackBerry Seeks U.S., Canadian Review of False Reports on Return Rates

WATERLOO, ONTARIO–(Marketwired – April 12, 2013) – BlackBerry® (NASDAQ:BBRY)(TSX:BB), a world leader in mobile communications, today said it would seek Securities and Exchange Commission and Ontario Securities Commission review of a false and misleading report about retail return rates for the Company’s new BlackBerry Z10 smartphone.

“Sales of the BlackBerry® Z10 are meeting expectations and the data we have collected from our retail and carrier partners demonstrates that customers are satisfied with their devices,” said BlackBerry President and CEO Thorsten Heins. “Return rate statistics show that we are at or below our forecasts and right in line with the industry. To suggest otherwise is either a gross misreading of the data or a willful manipulation. Such a conclusion is absolutely without basis and BlackBerry will not leave it unchallenged.”

BlackBerry and Verizon Wireless, the largest U.S. carrier, on Thursday refuted claims from research and investment firm Detwiler Fenton that BlackBerry Z10 devices were being returned in unusually high numbers. Detwiler Fenton refused to make either its report to investors or its methodology available to BlackBerry, even after the Company said the firm’s findings were “absolutely false.”

BlackBerry Chief Legal Officer Steve Zipperstein said: “These materially false and misleading comments about device return rates in the United States harm BlackBerry and our shareholders, and we call upon the appropriate authorities in Canada and the United States to conduct an immediate investigation. Everyone is entitled to their opinion about the merits of the many competing products in the smartphone industry, but when false statements of material fact are deliberately purveyed for the purpose of influencing the markets a red line has been crossed.”

Zipperstein said BlackBerry would present its formal request to U.S. and Canadian regulators in the next several days.

Prior to joining BGR as News Editor, Brad Reed spent five years covering the wireless industry for Network World. His first smartphone was a BlackBerry but he has since become a loyal Android user.