Updated from Sept. 28Research In Motion ( RIMM) got into a battle of perceptions with investors after the bell Wednesday that in the short term has left the company's stock on the losing side. The clash involved the BlackBerry maker's second-quarter earnings report. In making the report, the company seemed to have the high ground, posting 58% annual revenue growth and forecasting better-than-expected sales in the third quarter. "We are very pleased with the progress achieved by RIM and its partners over the summer, and we are particularly energized by our prospects for the second half of the fiscal year," Jim Balsillie, RIM's co-CEO, said in a statement. But investors seemed to see things a bit differently, and they had some ammunition on their side. At least nominally, the company missed its own earnings guidance and appeared to fall short of analysts' estimates. Moreover, RIM's subscriber growth in the quarter came in at the low end of its guidance, and its expenses were up sharply. The end result: RIM shares slumped in early Thursday trading, off $4.75, or 6.2%, to $72.50. In the quarter ended Aug. 27, RIM earned $111.1 million, or 56 cents a share. That was up from the year-ago period, when the company earned $70.6 million, or 36 cents a share. But the company's profit was down from the previous quarter, when it earned $132.5 million, or 67 cents a share. The sequential earnings decline came despite the fact that sales were up 8% from the first quarter to the second quarter. RIM rang up $490.1 million in the just-completed period, compared with $453.9 million in the first quarter and $310.2 million a year earlier. At least on the surface, the company's bottom line in the second quarter compared poorly with expectations. On average, analysts polled by Thomson First Call were expecting the company to earn 61 cents a share -- or 59 cents on a GAAP basis -- in the quarter on sales of $488.7 million.
Meanwhile, the company
predicted in June that it would earn 57 cents to 63 cents a share on a GAAP basis on revenue ranging from $465 million to $490 million. But on a conference call, CFO Dennis Kavelman encouraged investors to cut the company some slack. Included in RIM's bottom-line results were charges of $6.2 million related to an inventory write-down and a warranty issue, as well as another $6.6 million for litigation expenses related to its ongoing legal dispute with the patent-holding company NTP, Kavelman said. Without those charges, he noted, RIM would have earned $120.2 million, or 61 cents a share. "Adjusting for the impact of those charges, our results were in line with our previous forecast," Kavelman said on the call. Investors however, didn't seem to fully buy into Kavelman's explanation. Although they gained some ground, RIM's shares were still off from Wednesday's close after the conference call. In recent trading, RIM's stock was down $2.90, or 3.8%, to $74.35. And the company had a bit of mixed news for investors on its current period as well. On the one hand, it brought up its revenue guidance for the third quarter. But it didn't take up its revenue expectations, citing an expected increase in operating expenses. By the numbers, the company predicted that it would earn 62 cents to 68 cents a share in the current quarter on sales ranging from $540 million to $570 million. Previously, the company projected that it would pull in sales of $525 million to $550 million in the quarter. Wall Street was calling for third-quarter profit of 66 cents a share on $547.7 million in revenue. Although the company posted strong sales growth in the just-completed quarter, there were some disappointments. Software sales came in around $41 million, which was less than the company expected.
And the total subscribers to the company's BlackBerry service grew by 620,000 users. The company had previously predicted that subscribers would grow by 620,000 to 650,000 users in the quarter. On the call, Kavelman attributed the company's software and subscriber growth results to seasonality, particularly in Europe. Software sales were also likely affected by customers' anticipation of the expected release of the company's server software later this year, he said. That uptick in operating expenses weighed on the company's second quarter as well, at least compared with the first quarter. The sequential growth in the company's spending on research and development, marketing and amortization all outpaced the company's overall sales growth. Still, RIM had much to crow about with its strong overall growth. Meanwhile, the company promised better things for investors later in the year. The company expects to surpass 5 million subscribers by the end of the year, and predicted significantly better-than-expected results in its fourth quarter. For the fourth quarter, RIM projects that it will earn 74 cents to 81 cents a share on sales ranging from $590 million to $620 million. Analysts had predicted earnings of 71 cents a share on sales of $586.6 million.