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RIM Surges on Strong BlackBerry Sales

Defying low expectations, the BlackBerry maker delivers an upside surprise.

Updated from Thursday, Dec. 17

NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) --

Research In Motion

(RIMM)

shares were higher in premarket trading Friday after the company blew past targets with a strong fiscal third-quarter performance.

The BlackBerry maker, headquartered in Waterloo, Ontario, posted earnings of $1.10 a share. That's up from the 83 cents Research In Motion posted in the year-ago quarter and above the $1.04 profit that analysts were looking for, according to Yahoo Finance.

Sales for the third quarter, which ended last month, were $3.92 billion, up from the $2.78 billion booked a year ago. The figure also beat the $3.78 billion analysts had expected. During the quarter, Research In Motion says it sold 10.1 million phones, far more than the 9.5 million analysts expected.

Expanding international sales helped RIM boost its sales performance in the quarter with a record 37% of total sales coming from outside North America.

RIM has had to battle

Apple's

(AAPL) - Get Report

iPhone, which continues to gain momentum, as well as

Google

(GOOG) - Get Report

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Android phones like the

Motorola

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Droid.

Some of the toll from that skirmish showed up in RIM 's margins as price cuts narrowed the company's gross margins to 42.7% from 44.1% in the prior quarter.

On a conference call with analysts, RIM executives promised to play a little catch up in tech in the coming year. The company says it will deliver a so-called Web-kit browser in 2010, answering critics who say BlackBerry has lagged the pack on mobile Internet features.

The company also said it was working with Adobe software to develop Flash-based software applications, another area where RIM has fallen behind the leaders Apple and Android.

Looking ahead, Research In Motion says it expects sales for the fiscal fourth quarter ending in February to be about $4.3 billion. That is a sunnier forecast than the $4.1 billion estimate analysts had for the quarter.

RIM Co-CEO Jim Balsille

"RIM is experiencing a great start to the holiday buying season and the strong third-quarter results and fourth quarter outlook clearly reflect the strength of our diversified product portfolio as well as the success of our efforts to expand into broader customer segments and new geographies," Co-CEO Jim Balsillie said in a press release Thursday.

In premarket trading Friday, the stock was trading at $71, up $7.54, or about 12%, higher than its closing price Thursday.

--

Written by Scott Moritz in New York

.

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