UPDATE, Friday, 6:45 AM: Looks like Research In Motion execs’ vague comments last night about their plans for the new Blackberry 10 system quashed investors’ initially warm feelings about the better-than-expected Q3 results. RIM’s stock price dropped nearly 17% shortly after the market opened on Friday. The company warned that it will increase its spending to promote the long-awaited update to the Blackberry platform in late January. CEO Thorsten Heins also said in a conference call that there’ll be new tiered service offerings, but offered no details. He told CNBC this morning that the transition to BlackBerry 10 “is going to be probably one-and-a-half to two years.”
PREVIOUS, Thursday 3:07 PM: Will the maker of Blackberry phones become the telecommunications come-back story for 2013? Lots of investors are starting to think it might. Research In Motion shares are up nearly 7% in after-hours trading, following a 3.6% rise during the day, after it reported better-than-expected Q3 results ahead of the long-awaited introduction on January 30 of its Blackberry 10 system. No need to make the picture prettier than it is: By any normal measure, the numbers for the three months that ended on December 1 were terrible. A $226M income tax benefit enabled the company to report a $14M net profit from continuing operations, down from a $265M profit last year. Revenues fell 47.2% to $2.73B. But the revenue figure beat the $2.66B that analysts expected. Without the unusual developments, the company lost 22 cents a share, ahead of the 35 cent loss that the Street anticipated. RIM ended the period with 79M global subscribers, down 1M since the end of Q2. Investors are most interested, though, in the new Blackberry platform. The company has lost its cache as consumers and businesses flocked to the more robust smartphone services and devices for other wireless providers led by Apple’s iPhone and those using Google’s Android platform. CEO Thorsten Heins says that more than 150 carriers and 120 enterprises, including 64 Fortune 500 companies, are putting Blackberry 10 products and services through their paces. “We have an unbelievable fan base,” he says. “We are strong. We are excited….It’s a great time to be with Blackberry.” Still, Chief Information Officer Robin Beinfait will retire at year end. RIM shares are up 5% over the last 12 months, including a 124% resurgence since September when it hit lows it hasn’t seen since 2004.