Blackberry, the Canadian mobile phone pioneer, saw its shares track higher on Friday after it racked up a narrower quarterly loss than Wall Street had expected, as it continues its transition away from phones amid fierce competition and expand its software business.

The company’s shares were up 5 per cent in pre-market trading after it said its net loss for the quarter ending February 28 was $47m, or 9 cents a share, versus a 45 cents-per-share loss in the same quarter a year ago.

Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had expected a loss of 16 cents a share, on an overall net loss of $74m for the quarter. On an adjusted basis, excluding special items, Blackberry managed to eke out a $13m profit, translating to 4 cents a share, versus the $2m profit Wall Street had expected.

For the quarter, sales were $286m, or $297m on an adjusted basis, compared to the $289m analysts had looked for.

The company is in the midst of repositioning itself after losing its grip on the smartphone market to rivals like Apple and Samsung.

John Chen, Blackberry’s chief executive who has engineered the company’s turnaround, said that the results were “at or above expectations in all major metrics” as it continued to grow its mix of software and services revenue.

For the quarter, Blackberry posted its “best-ever” software billings, he said, and has even joined the frenzy over self-driving cars, having recently demonstrated an autonomous driving technology platform.

The company has outsourced its smartphone business to companies in Indonesia, India and China and now focuses on software to secure devices and networks. It also has a connected car division and 400 staff transferred to Ford as part of the growing partnership between the two companies.

“Looking ahead to fiscal 2018, we expect to grow at or above the overall market in our software business,” he added, saying that the company expects to be profitable on a non-GAAP basis for the full year. The company is also aiming to generate positive free cash flow this financial year as Mr Chen pushes to get its gross margins toward the 80 per cent mark from the current 60 per cent level.

Blackberry shares are down 14 per cent over the past 12 months.

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