Struggling smartphone maker BlackBerry continued its surprising stock rally on Wednesday, bringing it up over 26% over the last three days of trading even as other phone makers and the rest of the market remain flat. BlackBerry’s rise comes as it refocuses on its core customers in business and government, and promises to return to its physical keyboard roots.
BlackBerry’s biggest leap came on Tuesday after the Martin Luther King Jr. markets holiday, when shares rose nearly 10%. The movement came after the US Department of Defense said BlackBerry smartphones would be the primary device supported on its new secure network. 80,000 BlackBerrys will start to be hooked up to the DOD’s system by the end of January, while less than 2,000 phones and tablets will come from BlackBerry rivals Apple and Google.
The news shows BlackBerry may be able to retain its main category of customers in business and government, where the company’s devices originally caught on. New CEO John Chen has made refocusing BlackBerry on those core users a large part of his strategy. He has also pledged to predominantly produce devices with the signature physical keyboard going forward. While most smartphones from Apple, Google, and Microsoft have moved toward touch screens and one or no physical buttons at all, many customers — especially those in the C-suite and in D.C. — still revere their keyboards.
BlackBerry also announced on Wednesday that it is selling the majority of its real-estate holdings in its home country of Canada (more than 3 million square feet), raising questions about whether it will move its headquarters elsewhere.
As its demise appeared imminent, BlackBerry was one of the stock market’s biggest losers in 2013. The stock sank over 36% last year despite surging shares nearly everywhere else. But new years can mean new beginnings. BlackBerry shares are up 43% in 2014, outpacing pretty much everyone as investors see signs of life.
At 2:58pm EST, BlackBerry traded at $10.66, up 7.35% on the day.