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Blackberry Continues To Struggle As Management Remains Asleep At The Wheel

Blackberry (NYSE: BB) continued to struggle during the first quarter with negative growth overall and low single-digit growth in its software segment.

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This story originally appeared on MarketBeat

-Blackberry reported Q1 earnings, and despite beating analyst estimates, the stock continues to struggle.

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-Net profit was -$181 million, or -$.35 per share.

-Revenue fell by 3.4% y-o-y to $168 million.

-Software and services revenue grew by 9% y-o-y to $164 million.

-Blackberry’s stock is down 55% from its 52-week high.

Blackberry (NYSE: BB) continued to struggle during the first quarter with negative growth overall and low single-digit growth in its software segment. It’s been known for a while that Blackberry has lost its way in its core area of business, which is security. While competitors such as Crowdstrike continue to witness a high growth rate, Blackberry remains on the backfoot due to management's poor execution. That theme continued for the quarter as results came in weak once again, and the lack of turnaround resulted in the stock selling off after-hours.

Blackberry’s quarterly overview

GuardMDR software and CylanceProtect continue to be the backbone of the cyber security division for Blackberry. Since the acquisition of Cylance, Blackberry has not been able to capitalize on the platform. Although Cylance itself continues to get positive reviews, Blackberry has done a poor job of ensuring the platform keeps up with current market needs. The security software provider continued to struggle as customers continued to prefer Blackberry’s competitors, which has resulted in slow and low growth for the company. The source of Blackberry's struggles are a result of management's inability to provide quality individual and enterprise security software. And the biggest problems continue to be a lack of timely updates and a lack of after-sales service, which has driven customers to Blackberry's competitors.

In general, management seems to have resigned itself to the idea that it cannot keep up with competitors and provide a security suite that is modern and competitive. Currently, management seems to be focusing on its other segments, primarily IoT, to move the company forward. However, unless management takes significant steps to improve their security service, Blackberry will continue to struggle for the foreseeable future.  Furthermore, Blackberry’s focus on legacy vendors continues to be a part of the overall problem, as that market is not where growth lies.

The cyber security market is expected to grow by 10% over the next eight years until 2030, reaching a total of $190-$200 billion market size. Within the end-point security market, the biggest competitors to Blackberry remain SentinelOne, which competes on price, and Crowdstrike, which competes by providing better end-to-end service.

Furthermore, the segment gross margins came in at 54%, again reflecting the generally poor execution. Annual-recurring revenue retention rate came in at 80% for the quarter, which is what Blackberry achieves on average every quarter.

The company’s IoT platform continued to grow quickly, with revenue coming in at $51 million for the year. Automotives continued to be the main growth driver, as the segment revenue grew by 19% y-o-y.  Blackberry has continued to improve its QNX platform and has done a reasonable job of providing a platform that can compete in the market. As a result, it continues to retain vital customers such as BMW, GM, and Ford. The QNX software continued to be embedded in an increasing number of vehicles during the quarter, and management believes growth could pick up during the next couple of quarters. Furthermore, according to management, longer-term growth is expected to hit around 35-40%, as the advanced driver assist, or the ADAS software market starts to pick up pace. The segment should also see some tailwind from an increase 5G use, as a result of which, more and more automobiles see an increase in IoT software embedded within their system.

Financial results and outlook

Blackberry continued to post a loss for the quarter, with non-GAAP operating expenses coming at $132 million. These expenses include $23 million in amortization expenses, $165 million in settlement-related costs, $ 1 million in restructuring costs, and $6 million in compensation. As a result, non-GAAP net loss came in at $31 million for the quarter. Unless Blackberry can improve its cyber security margins to around 60-70%, losses will likely continue in the next few quarters.

The stock trades at a relatively high valuation with a price-to-sales ratio of 5x. Total cash remains healthy at $712 million despite continued burn-in cash, and total debt to equity remains high at 38x.  

Investors should stay away from Blackberry for now, as the management has shown little willingness to address issues that have plagued Blackberry now for half-a-decade.

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