John Chen, CEO, BlackBerry
John Chen, CEO, BlackBerry

As the company formerly known as Research in Motion prepares to release quarterly financial results on Friday, analysts are in two camps over what to expect – extremely cautious optimism, or more of the same downward spiral that began three years ago.

Morgan Stanley analyst Ehud Geldblum, who called RIM “essentially broken” a year-and-a-half ago, has downgraded BlackBerry shares to a sell, with a target of $4. The Globe & Mail’s Sean Silcoff sums up analysts expectations: a 41 cent-per-share loss for the quarter, with revenue off 42 per cent from last year’s numbers.

Yet BlackBerry shares actually rose 2 per cent on Monday on a “cautious upgrade” from Bernstein Research. The stock is trading at $6.20. And that has panelists on CNBC’s Talking Numbers cautiously optimistic about Friday’s announcement.

The word “cautiously” is writ large, though. Even while suspecting “better than expected news,” contributor Andrew Busch, editor of the Busch Update, slammed the company as a “soap opera.”

“They’ve totally mismanaged this company forever. So, it probably won’t be difficult to beat expectations,” he said.

The Thorsten Heins interregnum can’t be called a success, with the stock at a third of its 52-week high.  Despite the high-profile launch of handsets based on its new BlackBerry 10 operating system, and Heins’s claims that it was the company’s best-ever launch in terms of sales, handset sales are still down and the company claimed a $1-billion loss in September .

New CEO John Chen hasn’t been showing his cards, but as a veteran of embedded database vendor Sybase before its acquisition by enterprise resource planning company SAP in 2010, he should be strong on the enterprise side.

And that’s what many are saying is BlackBerry’s most viable option: a return to its focus on the enterprise market. (Heins said that himself, despite the fact that RIM put all of its marketing muscle behind flashy consumer handsets, and little behind its enterprise mobile device management platform.)

Watch the Talking Numbers video here.


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