// BlackBerry methods back on handset organization, shares leap//

The stock rose as much as 17 percent after the company announced the five-year partnership with Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology Co Ltd, which will initially build low-end devices for sale in Indonesia and other emerging markets. BlackBerry said it hoped to expand the fledgling relationship to its top-of-the-line smartphones.

The deal is unconventional in that BlackBerry will no longer pay upfront for components used in the devices made on its behalf in Foxconn’s Indonesian and Mexican factories.

Instead, Foxconn will take a share of profit on each device in return for taking on inventory management, which can result in writedowns if smartphones go unsold. Foxconn will also help with developing, designing and distributing the handsets.

Chief Executive John Chen, who took the helm at BlackBerry last month, said he expected the Foxconn deal to help BlackBerry’s handset business turn cash-flow positive, and for the company as a whole to post a profit for the fiscal year that begins in early 2015.

“It’s almost like BlackBerry is disposing of its consumer handset business without actually disposing of it,” said Jefferies analyst Peter Misek, who likened the deal to what Hewlett-Packard Co and Dell have done with laptops.

The move, which comes a month after BlackBerry said it was giving up on a plan to sell itself, helped take the sting out of the massive, $4.4 billion loss that it posted for the quarter ended November 30, as smartphone sales shriveled.

A new line of devices running on BlackBerry 10 software has failed to gain traction, forcing the company to write off $1.6 billion of inventory and supply commitments for the quarter. The previous quarter it wrote off $934 million for unsold phones.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based company pioneered the concept of on-the-go email, and for years its pagers and phones were must-have devices for political and business leaders. But in recent years it has lost its once-dominant market share to Apple Inc’s iPhone and a slew of smartphones powered by Google Inc’s Android operating system.

As of Thursday’s close, the stock had fallen 47 percent this year. It was last trading up 14 percent on Nasdaq at $7.13.

“The most immediate challenge for the company is how to transition the devices operations to a more profitable business model,” said Chen, who is credited with turning around Sybase, a database and mobile software company, before it was sold to German software company SAP AG in 2010.

Chen has said he is counting on strong growth in BlackBerry’s service business, which manages smartphone traffic on the internal networks of corporate and government clients.

“Just jettisoning all the stuff and driving on with the part of the business that makes money makes a heck of a lot of sense to me and that is very clearly where Chen is going,” said Ross Healy, a portfolio manager at Macnicol & Associates who owns a small number of BlackBerry shares.

Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Kantar Comtech, said the deal is a good move for Foxconn, the world’s largest electronic parts manufacturer and a major partner of Apple Inc.

“This might be the first step for them to try and diversify, and experiment with putting their brand on the products they make,” she said.

In his first presentation to analysts after the release of BlackBerry’s results, Chen struck an upbeat tone tempered with a heavy dose of realism. The mix may have helped soothe nervous investors who had sharply lowered their expectations for BlackBerry after a string of disappointing news.

“It’s clear that he’s not the old guard, he’s not there trying to do what Lazaridis and Thorsten were up to. He’s actually been taking some concrete steps,” said Mark McKechnie, an analyst at Evercore Partners, referring to BlackBerry’s founder Mike Lazaridis and Thorsten Heins, Chen’s predecessor.

Chen moved quickly to stamp his authority on BlackBerry, hiring several former colleagues from his time at Sybase and SAP for senior roles in corporate strategy, marketing, and enterprise strategy, a key unit in the stripped-back company.

BlackBerry sold about 4.3 million handsets in the third quarter, with older BlackBerry 7 models accounting for about 3.2 million of that number.

The company recognized hardware revenue on 1.9 million devices, down from 3.7 million in the previous quarter.

On a brighter note, its cash pile grew to $3.2 billion from $2.6 billion a quarter earlier, but that included $1 billion raised by issuing convertible notes to a group of investors last month after calling off a months-long search for a buyer.

Service revenue slipped 13 percent as fewer people paid to use BlackBerry’s secure network, and the company said that level of decline could be expected to continue.

Along with the writedown on unsold phones, the company also slashed by $2.7 billion the carrying value of some long-lived assets, mostly licensing deals made when it was far larger.

The company reported a third-quarter net loss of $4.4 billion, or $8.37 a share, compared with year-earlier net income of $9 million, or 2 cents a share.

Excluding the inventory writedowns and impairment charges, the loss was $354 million, or 67 cents a share.

Analysts on average had expected a loss of 44 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue fell to $1.19 billion from $2.73 billion as increased uncertainty about the company’s fate led to further sales erosion. Wall Street had forecast $1.6 billion.

Morningstar analyst Brian Colello said BlackBerry’s turnaround strategy was more important than its latest operating results.

“I don’t think it’s a surprise that the revenue, operating margin and the business continues to decline. I think the bigger question is, what is the turnaround story at this point?” he said. “They have a lot of different assets that could point the company in different directions.”

(Additional reporting by Poornima Gupta and Edwin Chan in San Francisco; Editing by Frank McGurty, Lisa Von Ahn and Peter Galloway)

Original: http://in.reuters.com/article/2013/12/20/us-blackberry-results-idINBRE9BJ0KI20131220

// Dennis Rodman places in North Korea to teach basketball staff//

Rodman was there for his latest round of controversial “basketball diplomacy” in a country ruled by one of the world’s most repressive regimes.

The former player and a documentary crew were scheduled to spend four days helping to train a team of North Korean basketball players for a January exhibition in Pyongyang.

That January 8 exhibition — said to be against a yet-unannounced team of former NBA players — will celebrate the birthday of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, whom Rodman has called a friend and a “very good guy” despite international condemnation of the country’s human rights records.

Rodman’s trip — sponsored by the online betting company Paddy Power — is the 52-year-old’s third to North Korea.

North Korea: Reality vs. the world according to Dennis Rodman

Rodman said he struck up a friendship with Kim, a basketball fan, during Rodman’s first trip in February. After the two men sat next to each other watching a basketball exhibition in North Korea’s capital, Rodman told Kim that “you have a friend for life.”

Rory Scott, a Paddy Power spokesman, said earlier this month that December’s trip is nonpolitical, but is intended “to prove once again that sport has the power to rise above all issues.”

It’s not clear whether Rodman will meet with Kim on the basketball training visit.

The trip comes at a time of political turmoil in the secretive nuclear-armed nation, ongoing tensions between North Korea and the United States and outcries over North Korea’s human rights record.

Tensions in the region were ratcheted up as North Korea carried out a long-range rocket launch a year ago and an underground nuclear test, its third so far, in February. The U.N. sanctions that followed were met by a barrage of threatening rhetoric from Pyongyang.

Rodman was criticized for his first trip in part because it came during this period, in which North Korea was threatening missile strikes on the United States, South Korea and Japan.

The situation has calmed since. But in a sign of internal political upheaval, North Korea announced last week that the regime had executed Kim’s uncle, Jang Song Thaek, who had been regarded as the country’s second-most powerful figure. North Korea’s official news agency accused him of trying to overthrow the state.

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Rodman is “really important” to the North Korean regime, said North Korea expert and Forbes.com columnist Gordon Chang.

“Got to remember that Kim Jong Un needs to show that his regime, his government, is united, which it isn’t,” said Chang, author of “Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes On the World.”

“With Dennis Rodman, we’re going to see a lot of made-for-television events. Everybody’s going to be smiling, everything will appear normal, and this will bolster the regime,” Chang told “CNN Newsroom” on Wednesday.

‘It is not my job to talk about’ detained American

The United States has other points of contention with North Korea, including the detention of Korean-American Kenneth Bae.

Bae, arrested in North Korea in November 2012, was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor after he was found guilty of “hostile acts” and attempts to topple the government through religious activities.

U.S. officials have repeatedly called on North Korean officials to release Bae, widely reported to be a Christian missionary, on humanitarian grounds. His family has said he suffers from chronic health conditions that require doctors’ care.

Earlier this year, Rodman made no secret about his desire to help Bae. He tweeted that he wanted Kim to “do him a solid” by freeing the American prisoner.

But after his second trip to see Kim in September, Rodman told reporters that it was “not my job to talk about Kenneth Bae.”

“Ask Obama about that, ask Hillary Clinton about that,” Rodman said. “Ask those —-holes.”

Bae’s sister, Terri Chung, told CNN on Wednesday that she wants Rodman to press for her brother’s freedom.

“I would certainly hope and plead with Mr. Rodman to reconsider and … make the case” for Bae’s freedom, she said.

Rodman, the tattooed and pierced NBA retiree, has emphasized that he’s not an official diplomat between the United States and North Korea.

“It’s about trying to open Obama’s and everyone’s minds,” he said in September while announcing the January exhibition, aiming some of his remarks at the U.S. President. “You don’t have to talk about politics. … Related businesses:
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Paddy Power has said Rodman’s team of former NBA players would be announced sometime this month.

CNN’s Steve Forrest, Holly Yan, Jethro Mullen, Josh Levs and Brooke Baldwin contributed to this report.

Source: http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/19/world/asia/north-korea-dennis-rodman/

// At Franklin Square: A magnificent and food trucks//

Taken from: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/things_to_do/At-Franklin-Square-A-light-spectacular-and-food-trucks.html

It’s the holiday season and that means Franklin Square has been taken over by lights, lights and… more lights!

The Electrical Spectacle is here for their Holiday Light Show, set to a soundtrack by the . Related articles:
Chino Hills CA temporary fence .m., the evening festivities kick-off and will occur every half hour until the final show at 8 p.m. The light show isn’t the only attraction – ride the carousel, play Philly-themed mini golf, and dine on seasonal fare from some of Philly’s best food trucks. 

Beginning this week, a variety of delicious food vendors will be on site during the light display hours. The November schedule for food trucks is as follows (subject to change):

Location: 15485 Pheasant St.,
Chino Hills, CA, 91709
Phone: 800-648-5940

 Franklin Square, 6th & Race Streets, 4 - 8 p.m. daily, Nov. 14 – Dec. 31 -

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