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TECH STOCKS: BlackBerry Leads Tech Gains; Cisco Slips

02/14/2013 | 06:27pm US/Eastern
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By Dan Gallagher, MarketWatch

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Technology stocks held on to modest gains by Thursday's closing bell, led by a sharp upswing at BlackBerry Inc. and Angie's List that offset declines at sector giant Cisco Systems.

The Nasdaq Composite Index (RIXF) closed up a fraction to 3,199 while the Morgan Stanley High-Tech Index (MSH) edged up 0.2% and the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index (SOX) added about 0.8%.

BlackBerry (RIMM) jumped nearly 8%, reversing from an earlier loss. A regulatory filing by former co-CEO Jim Balsillie showed the former leader of the smartphone maker had sold all of his shares in the company. He had held an ownership stake of more than 5% as recently as late 2011, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

Balsillie stepped down as co-CEO in early 2012 as part of a major shake-up at the company that brought in current chief Thorsten Heins, who is leading the launch of the new BlackBerry 10 platform.

Angie's List (>> Angie's List Inc) surged nearly 24% following strong results and a positive forecast. Several analysts issued positive reports on the results, noting that the company is improving on its business model that largely has users paying for its content.

Weighing on the tech sector was Cisco Systems (>> Cisco Systems, Inc.), which saw its shares close down about 0.7% after the network giant reported a small sales gains for its second fiscal quarter and issued a forecast that was in line with Wall Street's estimates. The stock had rallied 25% since the company's prior earnings report.

"Investors may have to wait a bit longer if they were hopeful that Cisco Systems' earnings report would spark a rally in tech," wrote Scott Thompson of FBR Capital on Thursday, who added that the results "fell short of breakout performance."

Dell (>> Dell Inc.) closed down 0.4%. Raymond James downgraded the stock, on the belief that the company is unlikely to fetch much of a higher price in its pending buyout deal.A filing also revealed that founder and CEO Michael Dell agreed to take a lower valuation of his own shares in order to get partner Silver Lake to raise the bid price.

NetApp (>> NetApp Inc.) reversed from an earlier loss, closing up a fraction at $35.86. Earnings jumped 32% at the provider of network storage solutions, but NetApp's shares had also run up by more than 36% over the last three months.

Rohit Chopra of Wedbush kept his neutral rating on NetApp following the results, writing that "we remain cautious on the uncertain spending environment and advise investors to remain on the sidelines until signs of sustainable growth and visibility emerge."

Nvidia Corp. (>> NVIDIA Corporation) shares picked up nearly 3% after slipping earlier. Needham & Co. downgraded the chip maker to a hold rating following its results. "Rising opex growth is outpacing revenue growth, eliminating any earnings leverage," analyst Rajvindra Gill wrote in a note.

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