Blackberry Reports : Why the BlackBerry Classic is critical to the new BlackBerry CNET Review

BlackBerry (BBRY) shares were sharply lower in early trading. The struggling smartphone maker reported a surprise profit in the third quarter, but a big miss on revenue. Sales were down more than 33% from a year earlier.

TORONTO, Dec 19 (Reuters) – BlackBerry Ltd on Friday reported a small adjusted third-quarter profit and returned to positive cash flow, but shares fell as revenue declined more than expected.

Revenue fell to $793 million from $1.19 billion a year earlier, falling short of expectations. Analysts expected $931.5 million.

BlackBerry’s Nasdaq-listed shares fell 5.6 percent to $9.50 in premarket trading.

Cash flow was positive $43 million in the third quarter, while the company had negative cash flow of $36 million in the second quarter. BlackBerry had said it was targeting break-even cash flow by the end of the fiscal year in February 2015.

  • Cowen (Market Perform) likes BlackBerry’s margin improvement and BES license growth – ahead of the BES12 launch, BES10 licenses roughly doubled Q/Q to 6.8M, aided by the EZ Pass migration program (to be ended soon). “Software growth remains the critical driver of the long-term turnaround.”
  • S&P (Hold): “We are encouraged by a return to positive cash flow, reflecting margin improvement from cost cutting efforts. We see BBRY growing its mobile device management business … We anticipate BBRY focusing on growing its software offerings and expect its hardware business to remain at depressed levels.” MDM software rival MobileIron (MOBL +6.6%) is up strongly.

Colin Gillis, tech analyst at BGC Partners in New York, said BlackBerry Chief Executive Officer John Chen did a good job controlling expenses to boost the company’s cash pile.

“The fact that he overachieved by turning cash flow positive this quarter. That’s a great milestone,” said Gillis. “It gets easier from here.”

Excluding, a one-time non-cash debenture charge and restructuring charges, the company reported a profit of 1 cent a share. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S expected a loss of 5 cents.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based company reported a net loss of $148 million, or 28 cents a share, in the quarter ended Nov. 29. That compared with a year-earlier loss of $4.4 billion, or $8.37 a share.

BlackBerry launched its long-awaited Classic smartphone on Wednesday, hoping to help win back market share and woo customers still using older versions of its physical keyboard devices. The phone resembles its once wildly popular Bold and Curve handsets.

Hint: It’s not about smartphone sales volume or market share.

The BlackBerry Classic, as its name implies, is a throwback to the company’s glory days. But the smartphone plays an important role in BlackBerry’s future.
BlackBerry hopes the Classic will drive interest and adoption of the company’s services and software.
Josh Miller/CNET
Wednesday’s BlackBerry Classic event kicked off like most other phone launches: a video played to hype up the BlackBerry name, CEO John Chen made a few remarks and then pulled out the Classic for a photo opportunity. But as the presentation went on, it was clear whom the company was targeting: the IT guy working in a highly regulated business.

The conversation dashed past the typical walkthrough of the Classic’s features, with a healthy chunk of time spent on the phone’s enterprise software capabilities. Guests touting the business possibilities included chief information officer for Citco Fund Services, the founder of Niederhoffer Capital Management and the chief operating officer of Ontario-based Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital.

It’s a far cry from Alicia Keys, the pop music sensation BlackBerry once played up as its “global creative director.”

CNET review: BlackBerry Classic – great keyboard, cramped screen

The change in tactic is part of BlackBerry and Chen’s attempt to transform the company from a device maker into one more reliant on software and services. Services such as BlackBerry Messenger and its mobile device management platform, BES 12, are the future, but the company still needs BlackBerry phones to keep it in the mobile game — and generating revenue.

“They need devices to underpin the core value propositions,” said Charles Golvin, an analyst at Abelian Research.

A familiar face

The BlackBerry Classic takes its design cues from the BlackBerry Bold franchise — the last flagship BlackBerry line that resonated with consumers. With its familiar trademark keyboard, it serves as a bridge for diehard BlackBerry users still typing away on their old Bold and Curve phones and gives them a reason to upgrade to the new BlackBerry 10 operating system.

While the smartphone was clearly designed to cater to BlackBerry’s existing base, the company hopes to attract new users, touting the physical keyboard, messaging hub and longer battery life as attractive characteristics.

“I invite a lot of people who haven’t used BlackBerrys before to have a try at it,” Chen said. “I think you’ll like it and be surprised by it.”
But with a new generation of users weaned on touch-screen iPhones and Android devices, it’s unlikely that many will take a chance on a platform that still lags behind on games and other personal apps.

“We shouldn’t delude ourselves into thinking they will go after a broad appeal,” Golvin said. He added the only potential customer growth could come from attracting former BlackBerry users into switching back.

“It’s wishful thinking,” said Avi Greengart, an analyst at Current Analysis.

Interest in BlackBerrys has waned over the years. Over the past five years, it went from a peak of a fifth of the market in 2009 to just below 1 percent in the third quarter, according to Gartner.

A quiet launch?

But BlackBerry isn’t competing anymore in the mainstream smartphone market, a rough-and-tumble arena where Apple’s iPhone reigns supreme and rivals such as HTC’s One M8, LG’s G3 and Samsung’s Galaxy S5 battle for second place. While Chen has said his goal was to run a profitable smartphone business, that doesn’t necessarily equate to huge volumes.

Just look at the BlackBerry Passport. The smartphone was launched with much fanfare in September, but aside from early preorder numbers, it has largely faded. AT&T, which vowed to carry the smartphone, won’t carry it until next year. Analysts regard the Passport as more of a novelty.

 

Given the demand from hardcore BlackBerry users, the Classic may get different treatment. But Chen declined to comment on whether AT&T and Verizon Wireless would provide marketing support for the Classic, which launches in the quieter post-holiday period in January. BlackBerry is taking orders for the Classic now on its own website, selling a version compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile for an off-contract price of $449. AT&T and Verizon haven’t provided specific availability and pricing.

Regardless, the BlackBerry devices play an important role. They remain a major financial pillar, making up 46 percent of the company’s revenue in the fiscal second quarter. The company reports its third-quarter results on Friday.

More critical is the role the phones will play in convincing big businesses to switch to BlackBerry services, according to 451 Research analyst Chris Hazelton. While BES12 is able to manage multiple mobile devices, including iPhones and Android smartphones, the BlackBerry Classic gives the companies reason to upgrade their systems.

BlackBerry is offering the Classic with different enterprise and security bundles, an example of how it hopes to make money off of its security aspect. It’s a sweet spot that Chen, who boasts a strong history with enterprise software companies, wants to get the company moving toward.

“It is very much enterprise focused at this point, and that’s absolutely the future of the company, which I think is a good thing,” said Jan Dawson, an analyst at Jackdaw Research.

Chen also has a more ambitious vision for devices, which goes beyond smartphones. “It’s also the precursor for the whole [Internet of things] market,” he said. “I don’t look at devices as just a phone business. I look at it as much broader downstream.”

Blackberry A ” BUY” CNBC Video

http://finance.yahoo.com/video/blackberry-39-39-classic-39-224400946.html

Blackberry Launches The Classic – earns a ” BUY” rating

BlackBerry today announced the BlackBerry Classic, making official the smartphone that CEO John Chen has teased for the better part of a year. The Classic has a throwback look, as its name alludes, with a full QWERTY physical keyboard, physical navigation keys, and a nearly indistinguishable design from BlackBerry smartphones from years ago, such as the Bold. The Classic is significantly smaller than the Passport, which BlackBerry launched earlier this year, and is actually possible to use in one hand, unlike the gargantuan Passport. BlackBerry says this phone will appeal to those looking for the traditional BlackBerry experience that made those devices so popular so many years ago.

The Classic has a square, 720 x 720 pixel, 3.5-inch touchscreen perched above the keyboard and navigation keys. It’s a bit smaller than the 4.5-inch screen on the Passport, and much smaller than the average smartphone’s display, but it makes it possible to use the Classic in one hand and still have the physical QWERTY keyboard. The phone is powered by an aging dual-core Qualcomm processor from 2012 paired with 2GB of RAM. That likely won’t cut it for modern mobile gaming, but it should be fine for plowing through thousands of emails a day, which is what BlackBerry expects Classic users to do. There’s an 8-megapixel camera on the back of the phone, with a 2-megapixel unit on the front.

The Classic runs BlackBerry 10, which offers productivity tools like the Hub, Assistant, and Blend. It also can run Android apps, which are accessible through the Amazon Appstore that’s preloaded on the device. BlackBerry diehards will be happy to know that the BrickBreaker game is also available on the Classic and can be played like it was on older BlackBerry smartphones.

THE CLASSIC IS A VERY SPECIFIC DEVICE FOR A VERY SPECIFIC SMARTPHONE USER

Appropriately, BlackBerry announced the Classic in the heart of New York’s Financial District, an area of the country where BlackBerry smartphones are still a fairly common sight.  Perhaps even more so than the Passport, the Classic isn’t a device that’s going to appeal to the mainstream smartphone consumer, but rather it’s for people who like BlackBerry devices and aren’t looking to browse the web or play a lot of games on their phones. BlackBerry hasn’t been on the minds of consumers for years, so now the company is doubling down on its core business users, and the Classic looks like the strongest play for that field yet.

BlackBerry Classic

BlackBerry says the Classic is available starting today “through local carriers around the world”, though it doesn’t seem like any US carriers are offering the device. The Classic is also available unlocked through BlackBerry and Amazon’s online stores for $449.

Before the morning’s proceedings got underway, BGC Partners‘s Colin Gillis raised his rating on the stock to Buy from Hold, and raised his target to $12.50 from $11, citing a positive track record built up by Chen since he took over last year, and that sales of another device, the square-shaped “Passport,” seem to have gone well, and that the company could be at break-even on a cash flow basis when it reports fiscal Q3 results this Friday morning:

While we view the company is in the early stage of turning the business around, management has built up a track record of credibility with investors over the last year by quickly reducing costs and preserving cash, focusing on its core strengths of security and physical keyboards, successfully launching new products, and forming strategic partnerships to fill the gaps […] Sales of the Passport phone could be a source of upside in the quarter even though the company had a limited initial production run that effectively sold out. We expect sales of the Passport phone to provide $270 million in revenue with 450K units sold at an average price of $600 USD. This is 52% of our $518 million hardware revenue estimate, and we expect that the Passport should have a positive impact on overall average selling prices. We mention the phone has been well received in its target market, with 444 5-star reviews out of the 508 total on Amazon for an overall 4.8 rating. We expect the Passport to have a positive margin contribution […] The company is launching its classic phone today, continuing its emphasis on serving its core customer base by highlighting a physical keyboard […] Our view is that BES 12 and the Blackberry sales force need to turn free trial customers into revenue in order to sustain our current positive outlook […] The company is nearing the target date to turn cash flow break even before the end of the fiscal year, and it is possible the company achieves this milestone when it reports on Friday December 16th premarket if there is upside results driven by Passport […] The final reason for our upgrade is that the company has a market capitalization of $5 billion, and any modest level of success in the market can have a meaningful reflection in its current revenues, cash flows, earnings and share price. The nature of a company turning itself around is one of volatility, but the current path for Blackberry is clear and may prove profitable. Our downgrade was based on the thesis that the market may provide a better entry point- that thesis has materialized and now we are raising our rating back to BUY.

Disclosure : Jack A. Bass Managed Accounts hold long positions in BBRY

BlackBerry Ltd CEO Chen: Western governments wouldn’t allow Chinese takeover offer

“I would prefer to build a lot of value before I even contemplate” selling.

BlackBerry Ltd. Chief Executive Officer John Chen said he wouldn’t be able to accept a takeover offer from a Chinese company even if he got one because Western governments that rely on his phones probably wouldn’t allow it.

“We probably are unable to do that,” Chen said in an interview on Bloomberg TV’s “Studio 1.0,” when asked if he would sell BlackBerry to a Chinese company. “One of our biggest install bases is government in the so-called Five Eyes countries where governments share intelligence. I think there will be a lot of regulatory issues and concerns.”

The Five Eyes is an intelligence cooperation agreement between the U.S., Canada, the U.K., New Zealand and Australia. Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry has focused on its reputation for security as it works to win contracts to manage mobile devices for corporations and governments. U.S. President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron have all been spotted using the keyboard-equipped device.

Chen, a native of Hong Kong, did say last month that he’s interested in partnerships with Chinese companies to help increase BlackBerry’s presence in the world’s largest smartphone market. He made the comment at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation CEO Summit in Beijing, where he met with the heads of Lenovo and Xiaomi Corp.

Lenovo had expressed interest in a possible deal with BlackBerry last year before the manufacturer tried and failed to sell itself.

For now, Chen said he has no takeover offers on his desk for the US$5.8 billion company.
“Talk is not an offer,” he said. “I would prefer to build a lot of value before I even contemplate” selling.

Tax Haven Lessons From The Fortune 500
article link http://www.youroffshoremoney.com

Bankers Face BlackBerry Dilemma On Software Upgrade

 

©Reuters
Bankers are considering whether to break their longstanding love affair with their BlackBerrys as big businesses face the need to move to the latest version of the tech group’s core enterprise software.
BlackBerry is offering free upgrades to persuade banking clients that it is worth the move even as some still worry about the future of a Canadian group that once held a special place in the pockets of many in financial services.

The BlackBerry Enterprise Services 12 software, which launched last month, is crucial to the future of the company, according to Nick McQuire, analyst at CCS Insight. It will allow company IT departments to manage older BlackBerry devices as well as rival devices using software from Apple and Google.

Bankers were once inseparable from their BlackBerry devices but in recent years have migrated away from sole BlackBerry use and added smartphones and tablets from rival companies and some have abandoned BlackBerry devices altogether.
“If BlackBerry doesn’t stop the dripping away of business, it will become a [relic of a] forgotten era,” says Nick Russell, principal adviser in KPMG’s CIO Advisory team.
Mobile operators say that they were asked by corporate customers about other options ahead of last month’s upgrade, which is being offered for free until next year under BlackBerry’s “EZ Pass” offer. However, BlackBerry will soon start charging for the service, which means that it needs to be sure that its customers are willing to follow.
Ronan Dunne, Telefonica’s UK chief, says that concerns over the longevity of BlackBerry were causing corporate customers to reconsider their IT strategies.
If BlackBerry doesn’t stop the dripping away of business, it will become a [relic of a] forgotten era
– Nick Russell, KPMG

“Most of the conversations are ‘what are the alternatives’. If they don’t have a line of sight for the sustainability of BlackBerry, it’s hard to see too many will continue to upgrade . . . if they don’t know what the road map is.”
Analysts say that the BES12 upgrade is a return to Blackberry’s business roots after a previous version tried largely unsuccessfully to take on the consumer market dominated by brands such as Apple. The BES12 upgrade is designed to unify two existing BES platforms.
John Sims, president of global enterprise services at BlackBerry, says that for regulated industry customers, such as those in financial services, the cross-platform BES12 was more than a small update — “it’s a major step forward in maximising and safeguarding their mobile environment”.

Turnround plans

BlackBerry stakes out business customer

John Chen, chief executive officer of BlackBerry Ltd., speaks during the OASIS: The Montgomery Summit in Santa Monica, California, U.S., on Thursday, March 6, 2014. Chen has surprised skeptics and pleased investors by cutting costs and fueling a 56 percent surge in the smartphone maker’s stock. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg *** Local Caption *** John Chen
John Chen was grounded by a typhoon in Hong Kong but he laughs when asked whether BlackBerry is facing similar storms. “It’s still 80:20,” BlackBerry’s chief executive says about his chances of turning around the smartphone company. (In March he rated his chances at just 50:50) “I am actually feeling better than that now but I never use 100:0 as that would jinx us. But we are definitely out of danger.”

He says: “This very real security threat is why enterprises choose and trust BlackBerry. We have the unique combination of meeting any mobile deployment model — whether it’s bring your own device or corporate-owned, personally enabled — while never sacrificing the productivity or security needs of our customers.”
KPMG’s Mr Russell, who helps advise banks on their workplace IT strategy, says that BlackBerry has come under pressure from a general “consumerisation of IT”. Companies are now looking at using different IT tools for different employees: “In the past everyone might have got a BlackBerry [ . . .] Now it’s a deeper conversation about what’s the right device for each user. ”
Some bankers are pushing back as BlackBerry urges them to upgrade to the latest software amid concerns. about the company’s long-term health. Its share of consumer markets has fallen below 1 per cent in key European countries according to researchers Kantar.
“Everyone is being somewhat cautious as to how to approach BlackBerry,” says a managing director at a large bank. “No one wants to make a long-term commitment to upgrading IT platforms if there is a residual risk as to whether that partner is going to be around for a long time.”
Mr Dunne says that BlackBerry was also hampered by a lack of popular consumer devices. Companies with huge consumer businesses such as Samsung and Apple are rapidly gaining business customers. Both are benefiting from the “bring your own device” strategies that allow many workers to use their personal phones for work.

Dispatches from the tech world: FT experts in San Francisco, London and Taipei upload their views
BlackBerry chief executive John Chen has been applauded by investors for his work in turning around the ailing Canadian device maker since becoming Blackberry’s chief executive last year. He has cut costs, and set out a clearer strategy of wooing core users by playing up BlackBerry’s security advantages.
New devices have included the square-shaped Passport, as well as a return to older styles with the so-called BlackBerry Classic. “The transformation of BlackBerry is well under way,” says Mr Sims. “We are on track to be cash flow break even by the end of the fiscal year. The positive support we’re seeing from our enterprise customers is helping us on this path.”
He says that more than 5m BES client access licences have been registered since the EZ Pass migration programme launched in March. “More than 30 per cent of these licences have been traded in from competitors’ platforms.”
There are signs that the group has been recovering ground with its core corporate client base. According to IDC, BlackBerry improved market share in the commercial segment in the last couple of quarters after falling rapidly to a low of 1.7 per cent in the first quarter
And some bankers say they still favoured the BlackBerry keypad for writing emails, which constitutes much of their use. A managing director at a large US bank says: “The reason we live on our BlackBerrys is not because it’s the best device but because we’re used to it and because it has a decent keyboard you can type on.”

For our year end review on the sectors we are watching but not yet buying go to http://www.youroffshoremoney.com  ( blog section)

Chen’s Letter To Blackberry Fans- old and new

BlackBerry* (BB : TSX : $11.78), Net Change: -0.14, % Change: -1.17%, Volume: 2,293,041
BlackBerry* (BBRY : NASDAQ : US$10.52), Net Change: -0.13, % Change: -1.22%, Volume: 8,159,305

John Chen, CEO of BlackBerry,

 

wrote an open letter to current and former BlackBerry users

hoping to create some buzz for the company’s “new/old” BlackBerry Classic device, set for release later this year.

Here are some of the more notable lines from his letter:

“To our loyal (current and former) BlackBerry users: BlackBerry is driven by an
urgent, obsessive focus on what matters: you. When we lose sight of what you want and you need, we lose you. It’s tempting in
a rapidly changing, rapidly growing mobile market to change for the sake of change – to mimic what’s trendy and match the
industry-standard, kitchen-sink approach of trying to be all things to all people. But there’s also something to be said for the
classic adage, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. BlackBerry Classic reflects that. It is classic BlackBerry – complete with a top row of
navigation keys and a trackpad. It’s the device that has always felt right in your hands and always felt right in your busy
day…Innovation is a word that gets used too often and carelessly. Innovation is not about blowing up what works to make
something new – it’s about taking what works and making it better…You don’t reinvent yourself every day; you take what you
learned yesterday and sharpen it today. You drive change – often on your terms, but sometimes not. That you keep going
regardless is what distinguishes you as a grown-up. You’re in it for the long haul. So is BlackBerry. The things you remember
about BlackBerry that made you better are better than ever with BlackBerry Classic. BlackBerry Classic is for you, as is
everything we do every day.

Chen’s complete letter can be found here: http://blogs.blackberry.com/2014/10/classic-john-chen/

Apple Update Target Price $ 120

AAPL : NASDAQ : US$99.76
BUY 
Target: US$120.00

Technology — Communications Technology — Wireless Equipment
STRONG RESULTS; RECORD IPHONE 6 UPGRADE CYCLE DRIVES SOLID Q1/F’15 GUIDANCE

Investment recommendation:

Apple reported strong September quarter results above our and consensus estimates. Consistent with our surveys
indicating very strong global iPhone 6 demand with limited supply, Apple
issued strong Q1/F’15 EPS guidance slightly above our estimates as Apple is
currently selling all iPhone 6 devices it can produce. Please see our October
13 report titled “Monthly surveys indicate very strong iPhone 6/6 Plus
demand; limited supply” for more details on our survey work.

We maintain our expectations for a record iPhone 6 upgrade cycle driven by strong
replacement sales to existing iPhone customers and strong high-end
smartphone market share gains due to our surveys indicating a greater mix
of Android smartphone consumers switching to the iPhone 6 smartphones
than during the iPhone 5 series launches. Mac sales were also above our
expectations as Apple gained material PC market share during the important
back-to-school season. We reiterate our BUY rating and increase our price
target to $120 from $115.

Investment highlights

 Apple reported Q4/F’14 sales of $42.1B and EPS of $1.42, above our
$39.7B/$1.28 and consensus of $40.0B/$1.30. The strong results were
driven primarily by stronger iPhone sales of 39.3M units at $606 ASP
versus our above-consensus 37.7M/$574 estimates.
 We believe Apple’s Q1/’15 sales guidance in the range of $63.5-66.5B
was adversely impacted by F/X from the stronger dollar and iPhone
demand well above Apple’s ability to supply throughout the December
quarter. Our updated estimates are at the high-end of Apple’s guidance
due to our surveys indicating an increasing sales mix of higher-ASP
64GB (versus 16GB) iPhone 6/6 Plus SKUs combined with a growing
demand for the higher-ASP iPhone 6 Plus, particularly in China. We
anticipate materially higher iPhone ASPs during Q1/F’15 and maintain
above-consensus iPhone ASP of $680 adjusting for deferred revenue.
 Given the strong results and guidance, we maintain our bullish F2015
product cycle thesis and raise our F’15/F’16 EPS estimates from
$7.77/$8.19 to $8.00/$8.50.

Valuation:

Our $120 price target is based on shares trading at roughly 14x
our F2016 EPS estimate.

You Can’t Buy a BlackBerry Passport – ‘Being Sexy’

It’s a good thing that some people can’t buy BlackBerry Ltd. (BBRY)’s Passport phone, Chief Executive Officer John Chen said.

That means it’s popular.

Disclosure : Blackberry remains one of Jack A. Bass Managed Accounts largest long positions.

Shortages of the business-focused smartphone show that efforts to turn around the unprofitable company, formerly known as Research In Motion Ltd. (BB), are taking hold, Chen told an MIT Enterprise Forum event today in Hong Kong. Demand for the phone — the first major new device released globally since Chen took charge in November — has exceeded the Canadian company’s expectations.

“I’m glad to have inventory issues. It shows that people want the phone,” said Chen, 59. “We took a very conservative approach and didn’t order too many.”

In his attempt to return the company to profitability by 2016, Chen is focusing on products such as the BlackBerry Blend feature that appeals to corporate customers because it helps them merge work and personal information. BlackBerry’s smartphone shipments sank to 13.7 million units last year from 52.3 million in 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, as it struggled to compete with touch-screen devices produced by Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Samsung Electronics Co.

‘Being Sexy’

The Passport pre-sold 200,000 units in the first two days, selling out in six hours on BlackBerry’s website and within 10 hours on Amazon.com. The square-screen smartphone is designed for business users who write e-mails, study spreadsheets and read documents on their phones.
BlackBerry was focused on the 30 percent of the market that sees their phones as a tool, not as an entertainment portal, Chen said.

“That is not a space that we can afford to be in now. Being sexy and being a workhorse are two different things,” he said.

Chen, a Hong Kong native, said he doesn’t yet have a strategy for expanding into China. The company got 16 percent of its sales from the Asia-Pacific region during the fiscal year that ended in March, compared with 19 percent from the U.S., according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Chen said he hopes to get ideas when he attends the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Beijing next month, his first trip to the country as CEO.

“China is too big a market to ignore,” Chen said. “It is clear that BlackBerry needs to and should be in that market.”

Shares of BlackBerry rose 1.3 percent to $9.42 at 9:37 a.m. New York time.

Avago Technologies Limited iPhone Upgrade Target price $97

AVGO : NASDAQ : US$83.47
BUY 
Target: US$97.00

COMPANY DESCRIPTION:
Avago Technologies Limited is a designer, developer and
global supplier of analog semiconductor devices. Avago
offers products in three primary target markets: wireless
communications, wired infrastructure, and industrial and
automotive electronics. Applications for Avago products
include smartphones, connected tablets, consumer
appliances, data networking and telecom equipment, and
enterprise storage and servers.

Technology — Communications Technology — Semiconductors
RAISING ESTIMATES BASED ON STRONG IPHONE 6 CONTENT SHARE AND INCREASED IPHONE 6 ESTIMATES
Investment recommendation: Based on our analysis, industry
conversations, and recent iPhone 6 teardown reports, we believe Avago has
roughly doubled its dollar content in the recently launched iPhone 6/6 Plus
smartphones versus the iPhone 5s/5c models and has the highest RF dollar
content share among the RF suppliers. With our recent surveys indicating
extremely strong demand for the new iPhone 6 products, we anticipate very
strong Q4/14 iPhone sales and high-end smartphone market share gains for
Apple versus high-tier Android OEMs, particularly Samsung. Given Avago’s
strong dollar content in the new iPhones and our recently raised iPhone
estimates, we are raising our Avago estimates. We reiterate our BUY rating
and raise our PT to $97.
Investment highlights
 Our recent surveys and analysis indicate very strong iPhone 6 demand,
and we anticipate a record iPhone 6 upgrade cycle. Please see our
separate Apple note, published Sept. 22, titled “Monthly surveys
indicate record iPhone 6 upgrade cycle, strong market share gains,” for
our updated iPhone estimates.
 We estimate the RF front-end content in the iPhone 6/6 Plus increased
to roughly $15.25-15.50 per device versus $11.25-11.50 in the iPhone
5s/5c models due to increased LTE band support and features such as
envelope tracking and carrier aggregation. Due to the increased
number of higher-frequency bands supported that require FBAR filters,
we believe Avago increased its RF dollar content to roughly $6/iPhone 6
models versus roughly $3 in the iPhone 5s/5c.
 While we believe Avago has growing dollar content in other flagship
Android smartphones such as Galaxy Note 4, Avago has stronger dollar
content share in the iPhone 6 devices given Android smartphones tend
to support more regional LTE SKUs. Therefore, we believe Avago will
benefit from strong iPhone 6/6 Plus sales despite our recently lowered
Android estimates due to share losses to the iPhone 6 products.
 Given these trends, we raise our F2014/15 Wireless business sales
estimates, resulting in our F2014/15 pro forma EPS estimates
increasing from $4.63/$6.35 to $4.65/$6.45
Valuation:

Our $97 price target (was $95) is based on shares trading at
roughly 15x our F2015 pro forma EPS estimate.

BlackBerry’s Passport will win fans — but mostly among the faithful (review

Love it or hate it, you have to hand it to BlackBerry — the Passport is different.

Whether it’s a good kind of different or a bad kind of different is still being hotly debated, but at least the company that has been roundly criticized for doing a poor job of playing me-too to Apple, Samsung and others, is attempting to break free of the pack and blaze its own trail. You have to respect that.

The real question is, can we respect the Passport, with its odd, square-ish shape, heavy weight, and its unusual implementation of the physical keyboard? Perhaps. Here are the top good and bad aspects of the latest BlackBerry.

The Good

The Screen

Though it lies at the heart of the Passport’s atypical dimensions, the 1,440 x 1,440 screen is superb. Not only does it provide plenty of contrast, brightness, and off-angle visibility, its pixel density (at 453 ppi) is better than that of the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, and the Samsung Galaxy S5. It’s so good that, even though it’s a phone, you’re tempted to view the desktop version of websites (something the browser lets you choose if you want).

Unlike typical rectangular screen phones, there’s no real-estate benefit to rotating the Passport sideways because it’s a perfect square, but since the keyboard is touch-sensitive and can be used to scroll, a sideways orientation allows for scrolling without impeding your view of the screen which is a nice touch.

The Passport’s extra wide and super-high ppi screen means desktop web page design is viewable with few compromises.

 

The Speaker

BlackBerry made a big deal about the Passport’s internal speaker at the launch event, claiming it had significantly better specs than both the HTC One M8 and the Samsung Galaxy S5. There’s no doubt about it, it sounds good — really good. It’s easily the best BlackBerry speaker so far. Which is to say it’s now as good as the iPhone 5s.

 

The Keyboard

Let’s assume for the moment that you actually like physical keyboards, because if you don’t, you probably wouldn’t even consider the Passport. If you do like them, you will — with a little bit of learning curve — like the Passport’s keyboard a lot.

Its three-row layout takes some getting used to, as does the fact that extra keys appear on-screen immediately above it along with predictive word suggestions. But as with all other BlackBerry keyboards, the tactile feel is superb, as is its responsiveness.

But the part you will learn to love is the way BlackBerry has made the keyboard touch-sensitive, allowing it to respond to gestures. While typing, swipe up with your thumbs to select suggested words as they appear, or swipe to the left to delete an entire word. When on a scrollable screen, swiping up and down scrolls the content. None of this is groundbreaking — these are the same gestures BlackBerry has used on its Z10 and Z30 BB10-based devices — but it marks the first time a physical keyboard has been more than just a keyboard.


The Camera
I’ve always felt a little sorry anytime I’ve seen another parent trying to snap photos or video of their kids with a BlackBerry. I just know they’re not going to be super happy with the results. That changes with the Passport. For the first time, a BlackBerry now has a camera that is equal — and in some cases superior — to any smartphone on the market. The specs just can’t be denied: 13 megapixels, OIS (optical image stabilization), a 5-element lens, f-2.0 aperture (a full f-stop faster than even the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus), and backside illumination. Compared to the iPhone 5s, the Passport produces photos with greater detail, richer color, and better contrast.

Amazon App Store

Though it was possible to access Android apps via the Amazon App Store prior to the Passport and its 10.3 version of BB 10, it wasn’t officially supported. Now it is, and it works well. For the first time, BlackBerry users can dispense with the awkward “side-loading” technique for installing Android apps. Of course, the degree to which these apps are compatible may vary, but at least BlackBerry verifies that every app downloaded via Amazon has been checked for viruses and malware, which goes a long way to making BlackBerry users feel secure. And we know you like security!

 

BlackBerry Blend

This might just be the most exciting thing BlackBerry has produced since the original BlackBerry Bold. BlackBerry Blend is a software suite that lets you access the contents of your Passport from any PC, Mac, or tablet (iOS and Android) with a free app — a brilliant way to bring your phone’s capabilities onto a bigger screen and to provide productivity-insurance for those times when you accidentally leave your device at home or the office. Blend will let you access your Passport from anywhere in the world. You can also manage and transfer files to and from the Passport. The software isn’t bullet-proof yet, but it will be, and it’s amazing.

The Bad

The Size

Let’s just state the obvious: The Passport’s dimensions make it among the least pocket-friendly phones on the market. And while it’s steel-I-beam-inspired construction pretty much guarantees it won’t bend in your pocket, that’s not going to be much help if you can’t get it into your pocket in the first place. It’s just too wide to make it into the front pocket of most pants or jeans, and even if you were to cram it in there, its squared-off shape means that it won’t be able to shift around as you move to accommodate standing vs. sitting positions, which most rectangular phones do automatically.

Interestingly, this is the first BlackBerry I’ve ever seen that doesn’t come with some kind of holster or protective sleeve. Maybe BlackBerry figured the Passport was big enough without making it bigger still with an accessory. The bottom line is, if you don’t carry a purse, where the heck are you going to keep this thing? The inside breast pocket of a jacket seems to be the most logical choice, but how many buyers wear a jacket all of the time?

 

The Weight

If you like your devices to feel super meaty, the Passport’s curb weight of 196 grams — which is 13 percent heavier than even an iPhone 6 Plus — might be a good thing. However, given how much time we spend holding these things, I’m going to argue that lighter (all else being equal) is better.

Slim Port

So far, all of BlackBerry’s devices that have run BB 10, including the PlayBook, have come with two ports: USB (for data and charging) and Micro HDMI for video output. The Passport is the first to eschew the multi-port design for a single USB-based Slim Port. Slim Port is similar to MHL in that it can use the Micro USB port to output video via one of three adapters, but it can’t act as a device access link the way MHL does. In other words, you can’t browse the contents of your Passport via your TV’s navigation system. Slim Port certainly works as well as the cable-based solutions that attach to the iPhone’s Lightning dock connector, but MHL would have made a lot more sense.

The Keyboard

Yes, I know I put this in the “good” category, but the design is so radical that it may irritate even long-time BlackBerry users. Though the keys are well designed, backlit, and very accurate, there are only three rows, which means there are plenty of times when the OS has to supplement the physical keys with soft keys on-screen. This hybrid approach may be the logical way to preserve as much screen real estate as possible, but from a usability point of view, it’s painful – at least until you get used to it. After playing with the Passport for five days straight, I am still far from used to it.

 

Bottom Line

The Passport probably won’t win over many converts from the iPhone or Android camps, but it won’t be for lack of trying. This BlackBerry does more to address the shortcomings of previous handsets than any model so far. The size, shape, and weight will no doubt give many buyers pause, but those who take the plunge will be rewarded with the best BlackBerry experience the company has ever created.

Simon Cohen | October 2, 2014
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,161 other followers