12/20/2012 11:50 EST | Updated 02/19/2013 05:12 EST

RIM shares go on wild ride in after-hours trading

Research In Motion reported third-quarter results that beat analysts' estimates Thursday, but share prices swung wildly in after-hours trading as investors remain uncertain about the prospects for the forthcoming new BlackBerry 10 platform.

RIM said after the market closed that it had an adjusted net loss of 22 cents per share. The market had been expecting a loss of 35 cents per share.

Revenue in the quarter came in at $2.7 billion US, slightly better than the expectation of $2.66 billion. But that still represents a 47 per cent plunge from the revenue figure the company reported in the same quarter a year ago.

Investors in after-hours U.S. trading platforms initially drove RIM shares as much as nine per cent higher. But the gains disappeared an hour later and the shares were down 10 per cent at 6:23 p.m. ET.

The MarketWatch website quoted Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu as saying the decline may have been based on "unanswered questions around the future of its high-margin services business."

A Wall Street Journal blog said the conference call grew increasingly bearish, with concern over "planned changes by RIM to the service fee model for [its BlackBerry 10] launch may allow customers to reduce the amount they pay RIM."

The company said it shipped 6.9 million BlackBerrys and 255,000 PlayBook tablets in the quarter. Gross margins rose from 26 per cent in the prior quarter to a better-than-expected 30.4 per cent.

The Waterloo, Ont.,-based BlackBerry maker also reported that its global subscriber base slipped by a million from the previous quarter to 79 million.

Cash on hand grew by $600 million to $2.9 billion.

In a late-afternoon conference call with analysts, RIM chief executive Thorsten Heins said the results reflect "the successful transition the company is making."

The company said there would be "continued pressure" on its operating results as it prepares for the unveiling of its new BlackBerry 10 operating system on Jan. 30. It also warned that the imminent release of the new BB10 platform could also lead to a drop on sales of its existing BlackBerry 7 products, as some customers will likely choose to wait for the new phones.

"It was a bit of a mixed bag in terms of the results, but the company's future still hinges on this Jan. 30 launch," said Bill Kreher, a technology analyst with financial services firm Edward Jones.

The stock has been on quite a rally in the last few months as investors warmed to the idea that the new phones and platform would help the company claw back some of its lost market share in the competitive smartphone market.

Stock has more than doubled in 3 months

From its low point on Sept. 24 at $6.10, the stock has more than doubled. It closed at $13.95 today on the TSX.

Still, that rebound is of little comfort for long-term stockholders, who've watched their shares tumble from lofty levels above $140 four years ago.

RIM has struggled in recent years with flashier and more nimble competitors like Apple's iPhones and phones running Google's Android operating system. RIM's global share of the smartphone market plunged to just 4.2 per cent in the July-to-September quarter, according to market research firm Canalys.

The company is publicly optimistic that its BB10 platform, which is aimed at giving smartphone users a full multimedia experience, will be able to turn things around.

Heins has promised "a truly unique mobile computing experience."