As we work towards the BlackBerry earnings release this Friday I’ve been following the analyst preview comments and giving you the summary versions here on CrackBerry. This morning Gus Papageorgiou from Scotiabank published his thoughts.
I like reading Gus’ reports because he is not afraid to stand out from the crowd. But at the same time he puts good thought into the justification for his view from a financial modeling perspective. No analyst is right all the time, and getting a mix of thoughts from different analysts is useful.
Scotiabank expects a big beat from BBRY on Friday. Specifically, they expect $0.72 in earnings per share (EPS) compared to $0.03 according to what I see at S&P Capital IQ, who tracks analyst estimates. In dollars, this means Scotia sees net income being about $355 million higher than the average of other estimates.
As explained in their research note, “The difference is largely based on margin assumptions. We expect gross margins to head higher (from 40% last quarter to 44% this quarter) on the back of an increased mix of BB 10 devices (17% of volumes last quarter to between 40% and 45% this quarter). The street is looking for gross margins to decrease (to 38%) even with an increased mix of BB 10 devices. This makes no sense to us as the BB 10 devices, we believe, have higher ASPs and gross margins.”
I have to admit ... Papageourgiou makes a good point. BlackBerry 10 hardware sells at a higher gross margin. The mix of hardware is shifting heavily in favor of BB10 versus the older BBOS. Obviously margin should rise in the absence of any other changes.
So why is the rest of the analyst community convinced gross margin will actually decline to 38%? Keep in mind what I’ve said before. Most (but not all) analysts are relatively honest, smart, hardworking people. They have reasons for putting out their estimates. And those who are modeling gross margin pressure this quarter are likely assuming that the Z10 prices have been slashed, and high margin service revenue is under pressure.
It’s early days here. It’s understandable and expected that different analysts will have differing opinions - even largely differing.
One interesting take away from the Scotia note is the idea that BlackBerry can still generate about $2.00 per month for pre paid customers. This is not something I have thought about. I’ve been under the impression that any former BIS customers who move to consumer-grade BB10 (no BES) will generate no service revenue for BlackBerry. I think that’s what most people have been assuming, but I could be wrong, and I recognize that BlackBerry has talked about future services that they plan to sell to customers in order to recoup lost service revenue. So the idea that pre-paid users can still generate $2.00 per month (while post-paid customers generate nothing) is, to me, significant. If I was an institutional client I’d be picking up the phone to call the analyst and pick his brain on the subject.
Here’s one more interesting bit of opinion about the company’s strategic review, complements of Scotia. This makes a lot of sense.
“The company has been undertaking a strategic review for some time now with no real concrete announcements. BlackBerry’s CEO has not been shy about a potential licensing deal. We believe IF a licensing deal is announce dit would likely be with Sony. Sony-Ercisson’s former CEO now sits on BlackBerry’s board of directors, the Sony CEO has stated that the company will support a third mobile ecosystem (aside from Android and Windows 8) and BlackBerry has stated it will not sell BlackBerry 10 devices in Japan, Sony’s biggest market.”
So there you have it, CrackBerry Nation. We’re 4 days away from the earnings release. We’ll be live blogging it for you on Friday morning!