Quarterhill shares sink 6.6% after Ottawa firm reports Q1 loss

Despite efforts to diversify into more stable business lines, Kanata-based Quarterhill said Thursday that the highly variable nature of its WiLAN patent licensing division pulled down its first-quarter earnings.

Quarterhill reported a loss of US$12.1 million and revenues of US$12 million in the three-month period that ended March 31.

It’s difficult to compare those figures to the company’s performance a year earlier, as the firm was a significantly different entity in the first quarter of 2017.

Last year, WiLAN said it was changing its name to Quarterhill and expanding into the Industrial Internet of Things market with acquisitions of software and services provider Viziya as well as International Road Dynamics, a transportation infrastructure tech firm.

However, the company said the uneven results from its WiLAN division, which generates revenues based on patent licensing agreements and litigation awards, continue to affect its quarterly results.

“(Our) financial results in Q1 reflect the variability inherent with WiLAN,” said Quarterhill president and CEO Doug Parker in a statement. “While we know the variability can also help this business, as it did in Q3 of last year, as we've stated in the past, WiLAN's performance is best judged over a longer period of time as opposed to quarter-to-quarter.”

After releasing its financial results, Quarterhill’s shares dropped 7.6 per cent at the opening bell on the Toronto Stock Exchange before making up some of the lost ground to end the trading day down 6.6 per cent, or 13 cents, to $1.85.