As I mentioned last week, BlackBerry’s earnings report is coming up on June 28th so we’re into what we call “earnings preview” season where analysts pump out reports highlighting expectations for conference call and financial results due out soon. We’ve recently seen upgrades from both SocGen and Wells Fargo.
This week we’ve seen one well known BlackBerry bear cut his estimates and recommendation. Pierre Ferragu at Bernstein dropped his target from $15 to $10 and now rates the stock “underperform” which is the same as a sell rating. I haven’t seen the full report but it cites “very weak BlackBerry 10 traction” and goes on to say, “The initial enthusiasm that we observed for Blackberry 10 devices now appears to be waning."
On the flip side, we have RBC analyst Mark Sue. He has raised his estimates on the back of higher BlackBerry 10 shipment estimates. He thinks they’ll ship 3.5 million Z10 and Q10 units (total, not each), up from his old estimate of 2.75 million units. Sue also predicts BlackBerry will sell 14 million BB10 devices this fiscal year, up from his old 11 million unit forecast.
So who do we believe? Well it’s not quite as simple as picking sides. RBC’s Sue did not upgrade the stock as many have reported. He just jacked up his numbers a bit, which is not the same as a recommendation (or rating) change. In other words, he’s become slightly more bullish on the stock but we’re talking more shades of grey here, not a massive change in sentiment.
Ferragu is a longtime bear on BlackBerry. That said he did upgrade the stock in February based on the belief that BlackBerry 10 would see a strong launch. So this downgrade is the equivalent of saying, “Hey, I was wrong ...” and it’s not very common to see this happen.
Mark Sue, on the other hand, is an analyst who I believe to be quite solid. He has never grabbed as being overly emotional. Instead, I think he’s got good insight, digs hard, and provides balanced research. His sales estimate of 3.5 million BB10 devices this quarter seems pretty reasonable to me, whereas the SocGen estimate (5 million devices) from last week seems overly aggressive.
We’ll see what else gets published before next week’s big earnings announcement. But at this point I don’t expect too much shock factor. The Q10 and upcoming Q5 are uber important, and we really won’t see their full impact until fiscal Q2 and Q3.
Stay tuned ...