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BlackBerry to release first-quarter earns Friday

Rob Gillies, Associated Press

TORONTO (AP) -- BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion will release first-quarter results before the market opens on Friday. It will take several quarters, though, to know whether the Canadian company is on a path toward successful turnaround.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Sales of RIM's new smartphones running the new BlackBerry 10 operating system. BlackBerry 10 addresses shortcomings that allowed the iPhone and Android devices to surpass the once-pioneering BlackBerry in sales and prestige. The quarter will reflect sales of RIM's new touchscreen BlackBerry in the U.S., but not its keyboard version which just went on sale in the U.S. this month.

Colin Gillis, an analyst at BGC Partners, said it should be a decent quarter because RIM has a lot of carrier partners who stocked their shelves. But he said the real question is whether the phones are selling to customers. Gillis said the August quarter will provide more evidence.

"I think people are looking through this quarter to down the road," Gillis said.

Michael Walkley, an analyst with Canaccord, also said the second quarter will show more about how many new phones they are actually selling to customers.

Gillis hopes RIM will release sell through numbers on Friday. Jefferies & Co. analyst Peter Misek doesn't expect RIM to release detailed data.

"All you're going to get is some sort of a status update. Frankly, this is a three to five percent market share player. From our perspective 3.5 million units sold out of 100 million smartphones sold is very successful," Misek said.

It won't be known whether RIM has turned itself around until the end of the year, Misek said.

WHY IT MATTERS: The BlackBerry, pioneered in 1999, had been the dominant smartphone for on-the-go business people and other consumers before the iPhone debuted in 2007. The iPhone showed consumers that phones can handle much more than phone calls and email. RIM faced numerous delays modernizing its operating system with BlackBerry 10. During that time, it had to cut more than 5,000 jobs and saw shareholder wealth decline by more than $70 billion. BlackBerry 10 is RIM's attempt at a comeback.

WHAT'S EXPECTED: Analysts polled by FactSet, on average, expect RIM to earn five cents a year on revenue of $3.37 billion.

LAST YEAR'S QUARTER: In its fiscal first quarter last year, RIM lost $518 million, or 99 cents a share.