BlackBerry Challenges Report on Product Returns

BlackBerry Z10
BlackBerry Z10

Shares of BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY) fell nearly 8% yesterday following a report from an investment research firm that U.S. returns for the company's Z10 touchscreen smartphone were unusually high. The company issued a statement this morning denying the report and said that it would ask the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Ontario Securities Commission to review what BlackBerry called "a false and misleading report about retail return rates."

The company's CEO 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.

Research firm Detwiler Fenton made the claim yesterday, and both BlackBerry and Verizon Wireless have rejected it. BlackBerry noted that Detwiler Fenton has refused to make its report or its methodology public.

BlackBerry's chief legal officer is also steamed:

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.

The return rate on the Z10 is less important that the number of units sold. High returns do not help, but BlackBerry needs to figure out a way to sell more phones. We noted yesterday a report that 71% of smartphone buyers told investment firm Raymond James that they would never consider buying a BlackBerry phone. That is the company's biggest problem.

Shares of BlackBerry are up about 2.6% this morning, at $13.87 in a 52-week range of $6.22 to $18.32.

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