Can BlackBerry Have Positive Free Cash Flow?

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Blackberry Limited (NASDAQ: BBRY) has been battered and it seems nearly impossible to imagine that the troubled smartphone player will have positive earnings again. That being said, is it possible that BlackBerry could have a positive free cash flow report along with earnings late this week?

Wells Fargo’s Maynard Um maintained a Market Perform rating for BlackBerry with a valuation range of $9.50 to $10.50. The firm gives this rating despite the fact that it believes BlackBerry will disappoint Street estimates for revenue and earnings per share (EPS), but there are some positives. On the plus side, Gross margin is expected to be better, due to a better mix, along with cost management, and positive free cash flow (FCF).

The potential for sale of the company is possible, but it doesn’t appear as likely in the near-term. However, other strategic alternatives are available at this stage such as restructuring, divestitures, aggressively target multiplatform strategy.

The revenue being forecast by the Street is expected to be up sequentially despite management’s guidance down sequentially. Cost management could play a role, helping to offset some top-line weakness.

Thomson Reuters has consensus estimates of -$0.04 in EPS and $802.29 million in revenue for the fourth quarter. The Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for actual earnings from operations see a loss this year and next. The consensus is -$0.15 EPS for the year-end FEB-2015 and -$0.08 EPS for the year-end FEB-2016.

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In the report Wells Fargo detailed its view on BlackBerry:

In terms of outlook, the quarter could mark a bottoming in software if EZ Pass conversions kick in and we expect management to reiterate a focus on profit in fiscal year 2016, stable opex, high 40% gross margin, and mid-teens Service revenue declines. However, we believe Software revenue guidance of $500 million for the fiscal year will be difficult to achieve and see the next quarter as unlikely to provide confidence in a ramp to the guided $500 million, though believe it is possible management provides bookings or other metrics. We believe a Software revenue ramp is the key to BlackBerry and with distribution still in the early stages, believe a material ramp may be unlikely for a couple of quarters.

The firm is taking a positive perspective on Free Cash Flow (FCF) in this quarter based on the fact that management has been conscientious of managing cash flow and Wells Fargo expects this discipline to result in a second quarter of positive FCF.

Having free cash flow may be far short of earnings. Wall Street expects that BlackBerry will post losses this year and next. That being said, if its cash flow stabilizes then it has a better shot of attempting a new strategy that it can stick with — and one which can hopefully help.

Shares of BlackBerry closed flat at $9.51 on a 52-week trading range of $7.01 to $12.63. The stock has a consensus analyst price target of $9.36.

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