Research In Motion Ltd. (RIMM) reported a sharply higher third-quarter profit Tuesday as sales more than doubled on sizzling demand for its BlackBerry (search) wireless e-mail device.

RIM reported net income rose to $90.4 million, or 46 cents per share, in the third quarter ended Nov. 27, from $16.3 million, or 10 cents a share, a year earlier.

Excluding a litigation provision of $24.6 million, or 12 cents a share, it said its adjusted net income was $114.9 million, or 58 cents a share. The provision stems from its legal battle with U.S.-based patent-holding company NTP.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based firm said second-quarter revenues rose 138 percent to $365.9 million from $153.9 million in the same quarter of last year.

The total number of BlackBerry subscribers increased by about 387,000 from the second quarter to about 2.044 million.

Analysts had expected a profit before exceptional items of 55 cents a share, on revenues of $363.2 million, according to Reuters Estimates.

Even so, RIM shares fell to $82.29 on the electronic Inet brokerage system from $87.04, where they closed on Nasdaq (search). The stock closed at C$106.85 in Toronto, up 36 Canadian cents.

"So far, from what I can see, it looks like it's been a good quarter and good guidance. I think it's in line or better (than street expectations)," said one Toronto-based analyst.

When it reported second-quarter results, RIM forecast third-quarter earnings per share in a range of 40 to 44 cents, or 50 to 55 cents adjusted, and reiterated its revenue forecast of $340 million to $360 million.

RIM said Tuesday it now expects fourth-quarter revenue of $390 million to $410 million, and it raised its earnings forecast to a range 48 cents to 54 cents per share, or 60 cents to 67 cents per share adjusted.

In September, RIM said it expected fourth-quarter revenue of $385 million to $410 million, earnings per share between 45 cents and 50 cents, and adjusted earnings per share of 57 cents to 63 cents.

Analysts had expected a fourth-quarter profit before exceptional items of 62 cents a share, on revenues of $411.3 million, according to Reuters Estimates.

RIM said it expects first-quarter revenue of to be in the range of $430 million to $455 million, with earnings per share between 51 cents and 57 cents, or 64 cents to 71 cents adjusted.

Analysts had expected a first-quarter profit before exceptional items of 58 cents a share, on revenues of $448.5 million, according to Reuters Estimates.

Overhanging RIM's prospects is the outcome of its legal battle with NTP, which successfully sued RIM in 2002 for patent infringement.

A U.S. appeals court upheld much of the patent infringement finding against RIM earlier this month, but said part of the earlier court ruling was flawed and sent the case back to a lower court.

RIM's stock fell after the ruling as a chorus of analysts said the decision was a major legal blow that strengthened NTP's negotiating position. They said the ruling increased the likelihood that RIM would settle the case out of court.

($1-$1.23 Canadian)