A Private BlackBerry Won't Matter

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of beleaguered tech giant BlackBerry (BBRY) are up nearly 7% Friday following a Reuters report the company's CEO and board of directors are "increasingly coming around to the idea that taking BlackBerry private would give them breathing room to fix its problems out of the public eye."

This move, if true, would not be much of a surprise. For more than a year, we've chronicled every step that BlackBerry has taken that would have led to this decision; each step forward, followed by two steps back. It was a tired dance.

Going private, or "underground," is the logical next step to the company's recent changes to its disclosure policies.

In the recent quarter, management threw hints that BlackBerry was no longer interested in the public's scrutiny. It was bad enough that the company could not meet the competitive standards laid out by Apple ( AAPL) and Google ( GOOG), but it was also clear management became frustrated with its own performance standards, which were being lowered each quarter. Following the big "swing and a miss" with its flagship BlackBerry 10 phones, management insisted that going forward it would no longer provide unit shipments numbers or subscription results for its service.

It was clear at that point that BlackBerry, as we knew it, was about to embark on a change. I was curious as to what the company was trying to hide. The company felt that somehow burying bad news would somehow make things better.

I have some serious issues with the idea that BlackBerry management believes that an uneducated body of investors serves the company's long-term interest. In that regard, it boggles the mind seeing how investors are once again jumping on board this stock this morning.

Last month, at the company's annual shareholder meeting, CEO Thorsten Heins asked investors for more time. Heins then pointed out that the company is in the "second phase" of a three-stage plan to restore BlackBerry to health. He said the first phase involved cutting costs and streamlining operations. The second phase is what the company is now in, which includes rolling out BlackBerry 10 and pushing out new devices.

However, as I discussed on Wednesday, it was announced by a BlackBerry spokesperson that three more mid-level executives were leaving the company due to slumping sales. The departing executives, identified as vice presidents Doug Kozak, Carmine Arabia and Graeme Whittington, were first reported leaving by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

What this means is the company still does not know its direction. Wasn't Phase 1 supposed to be the "restructuring process?" Heins said just last month that the company is in "Phase 2", which (to me) suggests the firings and the streamlining was over.

Investors need to ask a very important question: What is there that is left in BlackBerry to hang on to? This organization continues to look unorganized. I don't believe that removing itself from the public's view will ever matter. BlackBerry is done and finished.

I trust that BlackBerry longs will disagree. But just so I understand -- with declining performance standards coinciding with management's "new stance" on disclosure and transparency, how will privatization make this company be any better? BlackBerry wants to take its ball and go home. But it won't matter.

In fact, the only good that might come out this is Wall Street should now become more realistic about this company's recovery potential. It's not going to happen.

At the time of publication, the author was long AAPL.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Richard Saintvilus is a co-founder of StockSaints.com where he serves as CEO and editor-in-chief. After 20 years in the IT industry, including 5 years as a high school computer teacher, Saintvilus decided his second act would be as a stock analyst - bringing logic from an investor's point of view. His goal is to remove the complicated aspect of investing and present it to readers in a way that makes sense.

His background in engineering has provided him with strong analytical skills. That, along with 15 years of trading and investing, has given him the tools needed to assess equities and appraise value. Richard is a Warren Buffett disciple who bases investment decisions on the quality of a company's management, growth aspects, return on equity, and price-to-earnings ratio.

His work has been featured on CNBC, Yahoo! Finance, MSN Money, Forbes, Motley Fool and numerous other outlets.

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