RIM lost money in Q4, layoffs planned

BlackBerry Bold 9700Research in Motion hasn’t had good news to report in an awfully long time, and that streak continued during its most recent quarter. RIM missed analyst targets for revenue, earnings per share, and BlackBerry shipments as it scrambles to stay relevant before the launch of its desperately needed BlackBerry 10 handsets later this year.

The company has started losing money: $125 million, to be exact, after it was forced to take two big charges related to goodwill (likely the evaporation of value in QNX) as well as “an inventory provision taken primarily on certain BlackBerry7 products,” the company said in an earnings release. Separately, RIM announced it plans to reduce its workforce again, with The Globe and Mail reporting the cuts will involve “high-level employees.”

Jim Balsillie, who was RIM’s co-CEO before stepping down earlier this year, is now leaving RIM’s board of directors, the company said. David Yach, CTO for software, and Jim Rowan, COO for global operations, are also leaving the company.

By the numbers:

  • Revenue was $4.2 billion, down 19 percent compared to RIM’s third quarter and down 24 percent compared to a year ago. Analysts were looking for $4.5 billion in revenue.
  • The company’s net loss of $125 million is thanks to two major charges: $346 million in after-tax charges related to goodwill reductions (typically employed when the value of an acquired asset no longer holds as much water) and $197 million in after-tax charges related to the BlackBerry 7 inventory write-offs, which is a big problem. It’s going to be a long time before RIM has new handsets for consumers, and the inventory write-off suggests that nobody is buying RIM’s current products. Excluding the charges, net income was $418 million, or $0.80 a share. Analysts wanted $0.81 a share.
  • BlackBerry shipments during the quarter were 11.1 million, down 21 percent from RIM’s third quarter and 14.9 million shipments a year ago.