BlackBerry 10 devices hit Canadian stores, shares surge

BlackBerry's comeback story is winning some fans among tech analysts and consumers and investors like what they see, sending the company's shares up by nearly 13 per cent on Tuesday.

The stock soared as the BlackBerry Z10 hit Canadian stores.

One of the first sales of the highly-anticipated smartphone took place at a Rogers Communications flagship store in downtown Toronto, and was attended by Rogers boss Nadir Mohamed and Thorsten Heins, Blackberry's chief executive.

The marketing momentum is expected to keep pace with Heins set to deliver a speech to a business audience on Tuesday at the Empire Club of Canada.

BlackBerry shares, trading on the Nasdaq, spiked 8 per cent to $16.23 midday on Tuesday, after touching a high of $16.89. That built on a 15 per cent gain the day before.

Heins said initial reaction to the new BB10 in the U.K. is "very very encouraging," adding pre-registration in Canada was also going "extremely well." As well, there are signals Canadian consumers were migrating from other platforms to BlackBerry.

"This is a very important snippet. We need to verify the data, but if we can achieve that I think we achieved a lot ... ," he told BNN on Tuesday.

The company did win back at least one customer with its new phone.

“I’ve used BlackBerrys, an iPhone and Samsung,” Akilan Thurarirasa, 28, told the Globe and Mail. “Now I’m going to BlackBerry.”

According to the report, Thurarirasa brandished one of Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.’s Galaxy Note 2 devices as he purchased a new BlackBerry Z10 at a The Source store in Toronto’s Eaton Centre.

As well, BCE Inc. said so far demand for the device is higher than any other previous BlackBerry, company spokesman Albert Lee said.

Riding the stock rollercoaster

"The reviews are in and so far so good. Now buyers have to show up," said Barry Schwartz, vice president and portfolio manager at Baskin Financial Services. "The expectations are high. The stock prices have gone up. The company now has to deliver on sales."

That will ultimately determine the company's outlook because right now you're buying an "unprofitable company," he added.

The stock rallied on Monday ahead of the launch in Canada after a brokerage firm upgraded the stock, while word also got out that sales of the Z10 smartphone in the U.K. were off to a strong start.

 The upgrade comes after last week's glitzy launch of the company's new BlackBerry 10 smartphones and operating system, which initially saw the stock take a hit on some lukewarm reviews and disappointment the phones wouldn't be available in the U.S. until March.

"I'd love to be earlier. Don't get me wrong. I'm not happy with it, but at the moment it is what it is," Heins said.

Skeptics will remain, but Heins is ploughing forward.

"I was called dead two quarters ago," he added.

"Here we are. We increased our cash position, we made it to BlackBerry 10 ... I want to stay humble with where this company is, but I think all signs and all tea leaves are pointing in the right direction."

New BlackBerry owners' first impressionsThe latest BlackBerry smartphone hit Canadian retailers Tuesday, and some people who rushed to stores for their new device were impressed with the BlackBerry Z10.