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BlackBerry steadies the ship (slightly)

Opinions are divided but on the whole an 'up' doesn't really look likely. In a pre-session results posting the company has reported earnings of 22 cents per share on revenues of $2.7 billion. It was expected to post a 29 cents per share loss on revenues of $2.8 billion.

The most important metric here is the $100 million revenue slippage which relates to the sales which didn't happen - probably less importance should be placed on the unexpected profit the company managed to engineer.

Blackberry was projected to shift 6.5 million smartphones in the quarter (it managed 6 million). It did, however, hit its 1 million BB10 handset target.

Again, this is a case of smallish upsides and big downsides. For instance, the inevitable corollary of catestrophically fallen handset sales (see - BlackBerry Z10 flops in the US) is bleeding service revenue for BlackBerry. It has lost 3 million subscribers over the quarter as well (79 million down to 76).

Despite this, the BlackBerry share price decided to take heart and promptly rose by 8 per cent, only to fall back more recently as investors started to think carefully about the data.

So at least there has been a sweaty-palm moment for the stock market 'shorters' who have been particularly active. So active in fact that a new metric to measure negative sentiment seems to have emerged.

As we all know, share prices shooting down or up no longer give a clear view of a company's prospects. What might though, is the proportion of the total share issue of a given company being shorted (out on loan in other words).

To short shares you borrow them (you pay interest, of course) and immediately sell them, buying the right number back after they've shed value. You trouser the difference (minus the interest payment) if the price goes in the downward direction. If it doesn't you're into big losses.

Blackberry has the distinction of being the most shorted phone maker out there at the moment. According to the UK's Guardian newspaper, a full 30 per cent of all BlackBerry shares are currently on loan.

Just by way of comparison, according to the Guardian, that other great mobile casualty and still sliding, Nokia, only has 20 per cent of its shares currently shorted.

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