* Company says a partner ordered 1 million new devices
* Is the largest ever single purchase order for company
* BlackBerry shares rise further in trading after the bell
(Adds analyst comment, background; updates share price move)
By Euan Rocha
TORONTO, March 13 BlackBerry's volatile
shares surged on Wednesday after the smartphone maker said one
of its established partners had placed an order for 1 million
BlackBerry 10 smartphones, with shipments set to begin
The Waterloo, Ontario-based company said it is the largest
ever single purchase order in its history, a big fillip for the
company that is attempting to regain relevance in the
ultra-competitive smartphone market, where it has ceded ground
to rivals like Apple Inc's iPhone, Samsung Electronics'
line of Galaxy devices and other devices powered by Google Inc's
Android operating system.
In a make-or-break move to regain market share and return to
profit, BlackBerry introduced a new line of smartphones powered
by its BlackBerry 10 operating system, to much fanfare earlier
this year. The touchscreen version dubbed the Z10 is already on
sale in over 20 countries, while a device named the Q10 with a
physical keyboard is set to be launched in April.
The company, which has abandoned its old name, Research In
Motion, and renamed itself BlackBerry, did not disclose either
the location of the "established partner" or the time frame for
the device sales. BlackBerry also did not disclose whether the
order is for just Z10 devices or both Z10 and Q10 devices.
Despite the lack of detail, analysts view the announcement
as a positive, especially since it comes close on the heels of
announcements from Verizon Communications Inc and AT&T
Inc - the two largest U.S. wireless carriers - that they
plan to begin selling the Z10 device later this month.
"The combination of these three announcements gives us more
comfort in our May quarter (forecast)," said Wells Fargo analyst
Maynard Um in a note to clients.
Um, who has an outperform rating on the stock, expects sales
of 2.5 million BlackBerry 10 devices in the quarter ending June
BlackBerry's stock ended the day up 8.2 percent at $15.65 on
the Nasdaq on Wednesday, while its Toronto-listed shares rose by
a similar margin to C$16.04.
After the closing bell, the stock rose further, at 19:00 ET
it was trading at $16.07 in the United States.
BGC analyst Colin Gillis however warned that it is too early
to read too much into the single sales order.
"It's good for them...But the reality is the sales are going
to be spread out over time," he said. "This is a nice headline,
but it doesn't answer the questions that are still surrounding
Last week, BlackBerry Chief Executive Thorsten Heins, said
the company was very encouraged by the traction that the Z10 was
gaining. Heins said sales of the high-end device had surpassed
BlackBerry's expectations in emerging markets like India, where
cheaper entry-level phones are typically
BlackBerry is set to report fiscal fourth-quarter results on
March 28, for the period ended March 2.
(Reporting by Euan Rocha; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz and Bob