- Associated Press - Thursday, December 16, 2010

TORONTO (AP) - Research in Motion Ltd., the maker of the BlackBerry, on Thursday said its third-quarter earnings jumped 45 percent as sales keep surging overseas despite tough competition in the smart-phone market.

The results beat analyst expectations, and the company provided a forecast for the current quarter that also exceeded Wall Street expectations. Its shares rose in extended trading.

RIM said it shipped 14.2 million BlackBerrys in the quarter, narrowly beating Apple Inc.’s iPhone sales in its latest quarter, which ended in October. Most of RIM’s growth is now coming from markets outside the U.S., Canada and Britain, where the BlackBerry is already the business phone of choice.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based company said its net income was $911 million, or $1.74 per share, in the fiscal third quarter, which ended Nov. 27. That was up from $628 million, or $1.10 per share, a year earlier.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected earnings of $1.65 per share, on average.

Revenue rose 40 percent to $5.49 billion, better than the $5.4 billion expected by analysts.

“International markets continue to adopt BlackBerry in record numbers,” RIM Co-CEO Jim Balsillie said on a conference call with analysts.

Forty-eight percent of RIM’s subscriber base at the end of the quarter was international. Balsillie acknowledged some disappointment in subscriber additions in North America this year.

“We’ve had, you know, OK net adds, but we’re positioned to grow very, very strong and, you know, we’ve really knocked the cover off the ball in so many other markets around the world and yet our penetration in those are still very, very modest,” he said.

Sales outside the U.S., U.K. and Canada represented about 44 percent of total revenue, while revenue in the U.S. represented about 34 percent of total revenue.

In August, RIM launched the BlackBerry Torch, with a touch screen and a slide-out keyboard for an overall look that’s similar to competing devices. It also refreshed the look of the operating system.

RIM has said it will launch its first tablet computer, the PlayBook, early next year. On the call, Balsillie didn’t give a more specific date. He said the initial versions will be Wi-Fi only.

For the quarter ending in February, the company projected earnings of $1.74 to $1.80 per share on revenue of $5.5 billion to $5.7 billion.

Analysts were looking for $1.61 per share and revenue of $5.46 billion.

The company’s U.S.-traded shares climbed 94 cents, 1.6 percent, to $60.18 in after-hours trading after rising as much as 5 percent at one point.

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