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BlackBerry's Future at Stake (Update 1)

TD Securities analyst Scott Penner expects 1 million BlackBerry 10 subscribers for the fourth-quarter, but the next quarter will be a better gauge. "Given that most all BlackBerry subscribers are on a QWERTY device, the May quarter (availability of the Q10 is likely April for many markets and May/June for the U.S.) will be a better initial gauge of shipments," Penner wrote in a report. He rates BlackBerry "hold" with a $17 price target.

There has been a lot of concern about BlackBerry 10 entering an increasingly crowded market, as it goes up against smartphone behemoths such as Apple (AAPL - Get Report) and Samsung. Research firm Gartner said BlackBerry's shipments to emerging markets declined 33% year over year and 20% sequentially in the fourth quarter of 2012.

A recent IDC survey shows that Apple owned 21% of the smartphone market in the fourth quarter of 2012, with Google's (GOOG) Android owning 70.1%. BlackBerry's market share fell to 3.2% in the fourth quarter, shipping 7.4 million units.

Hudson Square analyst Dan Ernst believes the recent upside in shares may be unwarranted, particularly as the competition heats up.

"... E xecution issues, broader demand concerns, and competitive threats lead us to believe greater risks to the downside for Blackberry's stock exist than for further upside as the year progresses," Ernst wrote.

BlackBerry shares have performed strongly this year, gaining 21.8% year-to-date, outperforming the broader Nasdaq.

-- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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