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What's BlackBerry's Management Trying to Hide?

As I indicated in April, BlackBerry ended the fourth quarter with 76 million subscribers, down from 79 million in the previous quarter. Even so, 76 million is still a stout figure, especially when you consider that the service business accounted for well over 30% of BlackBerry's fourth-quarter sales. And let me re-emphasize that services generate the highest profit margin.

So, how this company thinks it's suddenly okay to not provide investors with this information is inexcusable. I exposed the year-over-year and sequential service decline last quarter. If I'm forced to speculate on how services performed this quarter, so be it. But logic says management would not withhold that data it the company was proud of the performance.

Along similar lines, in Friday's press release the company has also decided to withhold unit shipment data for BlackBerry 10. Again, other than to anger writers and analysts such as myself, I'm puzzled as to what management hopes to accomplish by being less transparent. I'm sure BlackBerry investors will have plenty of justification. But help me understand how not knowing makes you a more intelligent investor?

As a matter of principle, I don't feel obligated to detail the hardware performance either. But I will say that even though overall revenue was up 9% year over year, the company still disappointed the Street by as much as 50%, according to some projections. Likewise, device revenue was up 31% year over year. Now, normally I would tip my cap for this. But seeing as management has taken a new stance on disclosure, I don't have sufficient data to fully and fairly appraise what's in that 31%

Interestingly, though, there was a point when I felt that management spoke too much and kept putting its foot in its mount. As an analyst, I didn't realize then how good I had it. If I seem too harsh, it's because this company has an uncanny way of shooting itself in the foot.

As much as I would like to say something remotely positive, I can't. I don't believe it serves the company's interest to anger writers. That speaks very loudly.

One other thing: I'd like to hear from the analysts who were touting this company and raising its price target to $20 per share several months ago. What information were you using?

At the time of publication, the author held no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
Richard Saintvilus is a private investor with an information technology and engineering background and the founder and producer of the investor Web site Saint's Sense. He has been investing and trading for over 15 years. He employs conservative strategies in assessing equities and appraising value while minimizing downside risk. His decisions are based in part on management, growth prospects, return on equity and price-to-earnings as well as macroeconomic factors. He is an investor who seeks opportunities whether on the long or short side and believes in changing positions as information changes.
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