BlackBerry's Chen Should Take a Bow

 | Dec 20, 2013 | 1:27 PM EST  | Comments
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John Chen got the Wall Street equivalent of a standing ovation in his first earnings call as CEO of BlackBerry (BBRY) when the stock reversed from being down 7% to being up 15% this morning.

Former CEO Thorsten Heins has clearly left the building in Waterloo, Ontario, taking his weak management style and communication skills with him, and now Chen is in charge.

There was a lot to like in Chen's commentary. He certainly didn't have any results to show off. He was frank and honest in his assessment. It was clear that there were going to be no more sacred cows. People loved that BlackBerry was turning to Foxconn for its manufacturing instead of doing it itself in Canada and Mexico. They also loved the relatively small cash burn in the quarter, just $400 million, given how horrendous the results were.

And then there was the reorganization into four businesses and the positive commentary on those businesses. Chen was especially bullish on BBM, BlackBerry Messenger, saying that it could become profitable by fiscal 2016.

Taken all together, investors seemed to recognize that this wasn't a company on the verge of bankruptcy, and many are taking it as a sign that BlackBerry is out of the woods. It is not.

There will be more bumps in the road, but this morning's sub-$6 price might be the bottom for BlackBerry, the way $2.50 was the bottom for Groupon (GRPN) over a year ago, and that bottom came well before it was clear that a turnaround was afoot.

I still don't own BlackBerry, but I'm much more positively inclined to after this morning's performance by Chen. He seems like a no-B.S. boss, something BlackBerry has never had in its history and something sorely needed at this stage of its lifecycle.

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