Last week, analysts claimed that sales for the new BlackBerry Z10 smartphone were very weak and that floods of buyers were returning the devices. Now BlackBerry is fighting back, calling the reports "absolutely false" and asking securities regulators to investigate.
Bloomberg's Hugo Miller reported last week, "BlackBerry (BBRY), the Canadian smartphone maker, fell the most in two months after analysts said sales of its new Z10 device are showing troubling signs. The company denied one of the reports. BlackBerry slid 7.8 percent to $13.55 at the close in New York, the biggest decline since Feb. 13. 'The U.S. launch of the Z10 started poorly and weakened significantly as the days passed,' Joseph Fersedi, an analyst at ITG Investment Research, said today in a note, citing information from independent dealers. Some U.S. retailers are seeing a significant increase in customers returning their Z10s because they find the interface unintuitive, Detwiler Fenton & Co. said today. 'In several cases, returns are now exceeding sales, a phenomenon we have never seen before,' Detwiler Fenton said."
Euan Rocha and Emily Flitter with Reuters noted, "BlackBerry plans to ask securities regulators in Canada and the United States to probe what it said is a 'false and misleading' report that consumer return rates for BlackBerry's new Z10 smartphone have been especially high. The Canadian company, which has pinned its turnaround hopes on its new BlackBerry 10 line of smartphones, went on the offensive on Friday after the report from Boston-based research and investment firm Detwiler Fenton sent its stock tumbling on Thursday."
ITProPortal carried a statement from BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins, which said, "Sales of the BlackBerry Z10 are meeting expectations and the data we have collected from our retail and carrier partners demonstrates that customers are satisfied with their devices. Return rate statistics show that we are at or below our forecasts and right in line with the industry. To suggest otherwise is either a gross misreading of the data or a willful manipulation. Such a conclusion is absolutely without basis and BlackBerry will not leave it unchallenged."
According to The New York Times, BlackBerry's chief legal officer Steven E. Zipperstein added, "These materially false and misleading comments about device return rates in the United States harm BlackBerry and our shareholders. Everyone is entitled to their opinion about the merits of the many competing products in the smartphone industry, but when false statements of material fact are deliberately purveyed for the purpose of influencing the markets, a red line has been crossed."