Research In Motion Widens Net Loss

Research In Motion ( RIMM) widened its net loss in the third quarter, because of several charges related to litigation and layoffs.

The Waterloo, Ontario, company posted a net loss of $92.3 million, or $1.20 a share, compared with a net loss of $6.2 million, or 8 cents a share, in the same period last year.

The company took a pretax charge of $34.4 million related to severance payments, restructuring charges and damages in a patent-violation case. Separately, the company said it is taking a noncash charge of $40.1 million as a write-off for future tax assets for accounting purposes. In a prepared statement, Chief Financial Officer Dannis Kavelman said the company "will also not be recording a tax benefit until the company achieves profitability."

Excluding the charges, the company said it lost $14.3 million, or 19 cents a share. Wall Street expected the company to lose 20 cents a share, on revenue of $74.09 million.

Sales in the third quarter improved to $74.2 million, from $70.86 million in the year-ago quarter. The company attracted about 60,000 new subscribers to its Blackberry email devices in the period. It now has about 463,000 subscribers.

Lehman Brothers wireless equipment analyst Tim Luke said in a recent research note that the company's lead in the wireless-messaging arena "provides a high barrier to entry for the competition." However, he offset those comments by saying that the macroeconomic environment and overall slowdown in corporate spending are likely to crimp sales and subscription growth for the company.

Research In Motion added Verizon Wireless as a new partner in the quarter. It currently sells its devices through Cingular, AT&T Wireless ( AWE) and T-Mobile in the U.S. The company also landed a deal with Nokia ( NOK) in November to deliver messaging software to upcoming Nokia mobile phones.

Gross margins improved to 46.5% from 45.8% in the last quarter.

Company executives stuck by expectations to break even by the first half of next year. However, the company cut guidance for the fourth fiscal quarter, saying it expects to lose 9 cents to 14 cents, on revenue of $80 million to $90 million, because of lower-than-expected shipments of its devices to European regions. For the first fiscal quarter of 2004, it expects to lose 8 cents to 13 cents, on revenue of $85 million to $95 million.

For the full fiscal year 2003, it reduced sales expectations to a range of $300 million to $310 million, from earlier expectations of $310 million to $320 million.

The company's shares ended the day down 14 cents, or 1%, at $13.76. Earnings were released after the closing bell.

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