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Wall Street punishes BlackBerry, Facebook

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Facebook and BlackBerry lost ground on Wall Street Thursday as investors gave a cool reception to earnings at social network Facebook and the launch of a new smartphone platform by the Canadian firm.

Facebook traded down 2.7 percent at $30.40 in late morning trade even after results Wednesday which topped most analyst estimates.

Research in Motion, which rebranded the company as BlackBerry as it launched its new smartphones, tumbled 6.8 percent to $12.84 after getting a lukewarm response to the news.

Facebook, which highlighted a growing shift to mobile usage, reported a $64 million profit in the fourth quarter of last year, while revenue grew 40 percent to $1.585 billion.

But analysts expressed concern about news that Facebook expenses jumped 82 percent to $1.06 billion and will keep rising given the company's plan to hire aggressively and invest heavily in datacenters.

Analysts at Jefferies downgraded Facebook, saying profits may be squeezed.

"While we are broadly supportive of Facebook's longer-term strategy, the material increase in 2013 spending pressures valuation, making the stock less attractive to own on a near-term basis, in our opinion," said Jefferies analyst Brian Pitz.

But Victor Anthony at Topeka Capital Markets said the dip is a buying opportunity. "We believe Facebook will continue to be one of the primary beneficiaries of the secular ad shift from traditional media to the Internet/mobile," he said.

BlackBerry meanwhile failed to generate buying from its launch of the new platform and devices aimed at competing with Apple's iPhone and others using the Google Android operating system.

"BlackBerry's base is eroding, so time is of the essence and lower-priced devices for emerging markets and a larger screen model must also be in the line-up in order to target a broader audience," said Mark Sue at RBC Capital Markets.

"The older demographics represent Blackberry's loyal user base and our study shows that the brand has quite a bit of work to do to attract new users."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130131/wall-street-punishes-blackberry-facebook