Reborn BlackBerry hopes to ride trucks to growth with fleet-tracking service

A visit to trucking firm Titanium Transportation helps explain why BlackBerry's stock is once again a darling in Canadian markets, having soared 70 percent in two months. Nestled in an industrial area some 50 kilometres north of Toronto, the trucker is an early adopter of a new BlackBerry fleet-tracking service known as Radar, which uses $400 boxes to collect and transmit information on movement, temperature and physical contents of Titanium's 1,300 truck trailers.

Efficiency gains tied to Radar should allow Titanium to get maximum utilisation of its fleet, positioning it to cut the number of trailers by five percent and also reduce labour costs, company executive Marilyn Daniel told Reuters. "Time is everything in our world," she said. "Being able to tell a driver where exactly a trailer is as opposed to having a driver search through a yard for sometimes hours has been a definite improvement."

Radar is emblematic of BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen's strategy for turning around the Canadian icon, by steering the company away from consumer electronics and back to its roots of selling products to businesses. Beyond Radar, BlackBerry is also betting on other types of software for industrial customers. It is leveraging its QNX subsidiary's software foothold deep inside car infotainment consoles to expand into self-driving technology while promoting its cyber-security software and services to thwart increased threats from hacking.

BlackBerry's stock rallied after it showed signs of progress in quarterly earnings results at the end of March, followed by news in April of a nearly $1 billion cash windfall from arbitration with Qualcomm expected to fund future investments in growth. That comes in the face of an expected revenue decline to below $1 billion this year for the first time since 2004. At its smartphone peak, BlackBerry had annual sales of $20 billion.

Among the recent BlackBerry, bulls are institutional investors such as Nokota Management, which took a new position with almost 4.8 million shares in the first quarter, and Oppenheimer Funds, which added 3.3 million more shares to its existing 4 million share stake, according to U.S. securities filings.

Iridian Asset Management and Connor, Clark & Lunn Investment Management, two of BlackBerry's biggest shareholders, each raised their stakes by around a quarter as of the end of March. Nokota did not respond to requests for comment, while the others all declined to discuss their stakes in BlackBerry.

Reuters


Published Date: Jun 10, 2017 03:07 pm | Updated Date: Jun 10, 2017 03:07 pm