Shares of Canadian tech company and smartphone pioneer BlackBerry (BBRY) rose 1.7% Monday, one day ahead of the company's third-quarter earnings release.

Some investors might have bid up the stock thinking the company would deliver an earnings surprise on Tuesday morning. In fact, it did, reporting adjusted earnings per share of 2 cents, topping the average analyst estimate for a loss per share of 1 cent.

But some investors also might have been optimistic about BlackBerry's Monday morning opening of its autonomous car research facility in Ottawa. 

BlackBerry was the first company to put your email inbox in your pocket. The company, then known as Research in Motion, debuted its first two-way pager in 1996. But following a lucrative deal with IBM, the company adapted its pager devices to allow users to read their emails. This was the birth of the smart device market.

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BlackBerry's fortune began to sour in 2007, however, when Apple (AAPL) - Get Report unveiled the iPhone. Then Alphabet (GOOGL) - Get Report (then, just Google) released its Android platform.

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As BlackBerry rapidly lost its market share to these more advanced devices, the company watched more than 95% of the value disappear from its share price. In 2009, BlackBerry traded as high as $139 per share. Today, its stock is changing hands for less $8 per share.

However, hope for BlackBerry continues. During the last three months, the company's shares have risen by more than 3%, while its peers are seeing stock price declines.

In September, the company announced that it would stop manufacturing its own phones. And Monday's "smart car" facility opening is a further shift in the right direction.

BlackBerry has been involved in car software development for a decade now, so this shift is far from a surprise. The company aims to use the facility to build a "concept vehicle" with self-driving technology in a partnership with the University of Waterloo, Renesas Electronics and PolySync. Work at the facility will be conducted by the company's BlackBerry QNX unit, and it won't be cheap. The company has announced it plans to spend about $75 million, mostly on the 650 jobs that will be created by the plant.

That price tag should give cautious investors pause. That's a lot of money for a company that has been a poor performer during the last decade. And BlackBerry proved itself unable to compete in the smartphone space with Apple and Alphabet; how will it fare when up against Apple, Alphabet and Tesla?

Still, BlackBerry makes a compelling turnaround play for investors who aren't afraid of risk. If the company succeeds, investors who bought shares at current lows will be in for major profits. 


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This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.