Heins Cries Foul Over BlackBerry Stomping

Claims that returns of BlackBerry Z10s have been unusually high are "false and misleading," according to the company. The Canadian company said in a statement today that it would seek Securities and Exchange Commission and Ontario Securities Commission reviews of a Detwiler Fenton report that returns of BlackBerry Z10 were exceeding purchases in some stores. BlackBerry plans to make a formal request to the U.S. and Canadian regulators in the next several days. Verizon Wireless even came to its defense, joining BlackBerry in refuting the report. BlackBerry also noted that Detwiler Fenton refused to make its report available to investors or its methodology available to the company, even after BlackBerry deemed the findings "absolutely false." "Return rate statistics show that we are at or below our forecasts and right in line with the industry," BlackBerry CEO Thorston Heins said in the statement. "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." In BlackBerry's challenge, however, it opted not to release any return rate statistics either, only noting that sales of its comeback BlackBerry 10 device are meeting expectations and the "data we have collected from our retail and carrier partners demonstrates that customers are satisfied with their devices." In its most recent earnings, BlackBerry said it sold 1 million Z10s ahead of its U.S. launch. Its keyboard-equipped Q10 goes on sale in Canada at the end of April. BlackBerry is eager to refute the claims, as its stock price dipped by 8 percent Thursday following the distribution of the report, but Detwiler Fenton isn't the only one citing a poor Z10 launch. ITG analyst Joe Fersedi also released a report that the Z10 launch was off to a weak start, noting that Z10 sales are "in-line to marginally ahead of anemic sales of older BlackBerry models and the Nokia Lumia 822." Detwiler Fenton's general counsel and chief compliance officer released a follow-up statement today reiterating the firm's confidence in its research methodology and welcoming a regulatory challenge by BlackBerry. BlackBerry's share price is trading up by 1 percent at $13.68 mid-Friday. — Sarah Reedy, contributing editor, Light Reading

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