BlackBerry To Axe 4,500 Jobs Worldwide, Warns Of Huge Q2 Loss Of Around $995 Million

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In a bid to restructure amid an earnings plunge, BlackBerry said it will cut 4,500 jobs, or 40 percent of its worldwide workforce.

BlackBerry Ltd. (NASDAQ:BBRY) announced on Friday that it plans to cut more than one third of its global workforce amid an anticipated huge second quarter operating loss.

The company said it expected an operating loss of approximately $950 million to $995 million when it reports second-quarter earnings next week, due to the increasingly competitive business environment impacting BlackBerry’s smartphone sales.

The anticipated loss has forced the company to reduce its operating expenditures by 50 percent by the end of the first quarter of 2015. As part of this restructuring, BlackBerry will cut approximately 4,500 jobs, or about 40 percent of the company’s global workforce, resulting in a total head count of roughly 7,000 full-time worldwide employees.

“We are implementing the difficult but necessary operational changes announced today to address our position in a maturing and more competitive industry, and to drive the company toward profitability,” Thorsten Heins, president and CEO of BlackBerry, said in a statement on Friday.

“Going forward, we plan to refocus our offering on our end-to-end solution of hardware, software and services for enterprises and the productive, professional end user.”

According to the company, the losses are mostly due to poor sales of the Z10 smartphone, which was released in January. Heins said in June the company sold only 2.7 million Z10 models out of 6.8 million total handsets shipped as many users decided to continue with earlier smartphone models, BBC News reported.

Although the worldwide mobile phone market is forecast to grow in 2013, driven by 1 billion smartphone shipments, BlackBerry OS’ market share will likely decline significantly due to tepid BlackBerry 10 reception, the International Data Corporation, or IDC, said in a statement earlier this month.

According to IDC, BlackBerry OS will account for a market share of 2.7 percent by the end of 2013, which could decline to 1.7 percent in 2017.

BlackBerry said it wanted to focus on enhancing its financial results, and in response to the increasing competition in the smartphone market, it will transition its future smartphone portfolio from six devices to four, which will include two high-end devices and two entry-level devices.

BlackBerry released its new Z30 flagship smartphone on Wednesday to win back its smartphone market share. However, the launch of Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) new iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c overshadowed the Z30, which runs on the BlackBerry 10 operating system.

“It's not surprising in the sense that we haven't seen any traction with their devices, and it's obviously exacerbated by the fact that you've got Apple out with a new product, you've got several new Android products, and BlackBerry continues not to get traction,” Brian Modoff, an analyst at Deutsche Bank Research, told Reuters.

BlackBerry currently has no debt. But, at the end of the second quarter, the company’s total cash, cash equivalents and investments is estimated to be approximately $2.6 billion, suggesting that the company has lost half a billion dollars in cash in the last three months.

“The last time they reported results, they had $3.1 billion in cash equivalents, and in the release today, they say $2.6 billion,” Neeraj Monga, an analyst at Veritas Investment Research, said in a statement. “It's the beginning of the end. If the company is not going to have cash, it's going to run out of funds to operate.”

BlackBerry said it expects its adjusted net loss will be in the range of about $250 million to $265 million, or $0.47 to $0.51 a diluted share. The company expects about $1.6 billion in revenue in the second quarter, of which roughly 50 percent is expected to be from its services unit.

After it warned of a huge quarterly operating loss next week, the company’s Nasdaq-listed shares, on Friday, ended 17 percent lower at $8.73, after falling as low as $8.01.

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