Should Investors Make A Last Minute Rush For BlackBerry?
BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ: BBRY) recently announced that it was laying off 300 workers at its Waterloo headquarters. The move is part of the underlying plan to slash its workforce by 40%, or 4,500 workers, in order to curb costs and present a better proposition for its prospective buyers amid accelerated efforts to get out of the public market.
As we reported earlier, Fairfax Financial, which is a BlackBerry shareholder, previously made a $4.7 billion offer that was accepted by the company. Fairfax has until November 4 to finalize the deal.
Amid BlackBerry’s continued cost cutbacks, investors have expressed renewed interest in the struggling handset maker. However, the interest is not from the cost cutbacks alone, but rather the prospects presented by its messaging service, BBM. The BBM unit is now a standalone unit and arguably BlackBerry’s best chance of survival in view of its bungled comeback in the smartphone market.
Does BBM increase BlackBerry’s value?
The main issue for investors now is whether or not BBM will increase BlackBerry’s value. This is important, as the Fairfax deal is not yet final and terms of the deal could be reassessed to reflect the new found value in BBM.
BBM recently released a version for Android and iOS. This cross-platform version was cordially accepted by consumers as signaled by its strong first week after the late October launch. BlackBerry announced on Tuesday Oct. 29 that the new cross-platform BBM had roped in 20 million new users, bringing its total monthly users to more than 80 million. Although BlackBerry did not go into details on whether the 20 million new users were from Android or iOS, it pointed out that BBM was the Apple App store leader in 107 countries and the top free app on Google Play in 35 countries during the period between its launch and the announcement.
BBM has shown early signs of success. This is important as BlackBerry intends to launch BBM Channels, a service based on BBM, where users will be able to broadcast messages publicly or narrow down the audience exclusively to people following them. In essence, BBM Channels shares the same concept as Twitter.
Considering BBM knows the specific interests of users from recorded usage habits, BBM Channels will be able to present tailored ads. In addition, BBM Channels will ride on the already established reputation of secure messaging that BBM has managed to develop. The combination of tailored ads on a secure platform could merit premium pricing. This couldn’t be timed any better. Digital ad spending in the U.S is increasing steadily. In 2013, it is expected to account for 21.8% of total ad spending in the US, up from 19% a year ago.
Fairfax may be in the homestretch with regard to its $4.7 billion deal. But as earlier pointed out, the deal is not final and there could be some sticking points. In view of the cost cutback programs and the renewed prospects that the BBM presents, there is a possibility that the terms of the deal, if not the price, could be reassessed to give shareholders a bigger stake of BlackBerry’s increased value.
Disclosure: The author has no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.