RIM shares slump as subscriber numbers dwindle

Embattled BlackBerry maker's latest set of financial results are a cause of concern for analysts.

On an operating basis, RIM fared a little better than Wall Street had expected. It reported a loss of $114 million or 22 cents a share, excluding one-time items. Analysts, on average, had forecast a loss of 35 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

RIM also reported a surprise net profit of $9 million, or 2 cents a share, for its fiscal third quarter ended December 1, on the back of a one-time income tax related gain. That compared with a year-ago profit of $265 million, or 51 cents.

RIM said it shipped 6.9 million smartphones in the quarter, even as its subscriber base fell to about 79 million in the quarter from about 80 million in the period ended September 1.

In recent years, RIM's user base has grown, even as the BlackBerry lost ground in North America and Europe, boosted by gains in emerging markets. While eye opening, the shrinkage was not as bad as some observers expected during the last quarter before the BB10 launch.

"We're encouraged that the subscriber base only declined slightly during a very public transition, and BlackBerry sales were about what we expected," said Morningstar's Colello, who is based in Chicago.

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