BlackBerry Ltd.’s shares soared after its latest financial results topped expectations and it outlined plans for growth in autonomous driving, a push into health care and intentions to add significant engineering talent. The company beat expectations through growth in its enterprise software and services business, as well as in its fast-growing automotive division, John Chen, BlackBerry’s executive chairman and chief executive, said in an interview.
“Transportation, especially when it comes to autonomous driven vehicles and connected car, that unit had done the best in the last quarter,” he said.
The company, which keeps its books in U.S. dollars, said it earned US$43 million or eight cents per basic share in its latest quarter, more than double earnings of $19 million or four cents per basic share a year ago.
The company’s shares were up $2.20 or 16.6 per cent to $15.49 in late-morning trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Chen said the company also plans to ramp up efforts in autonomous driving and other divisions.
“You ask our own people, who are much more bullish than I am, they’re talking about adding a thousand engineers,” he said.
“It’s going to be multi-years, I mean you can’t find a thousand engineers because there’s such high demand and short supply. But we do have the advantage that a lot of our development organization is in Canada, so we’re very closely tied to the university programs. So we’re going to hire a lot of engineers I’m sure.”
But while technology development is ramping up on the automotive side, Chen said he’s more cautious than his colleagues as to when we’ll see fully autonomous vehicles take hold.
lackBerry has not produced a phone itself since late 2016 when it decided to forego manufacturing in favor of licensing. Unlike Nokia, which has a single partner (HMD) globally, BlackBerry operates with numerous licensors for different markets, most notable being TCL and Optiemus.
While the profit figures are a far cry from their glory days, it is good to see the company is here to stay.