Palm Shares Rise on Upgrades

As parts of the telecom industry debate whether Palm Inc. (PALM) is toast, another sector sees hope for the smartphone maker, which is losing market share to the iPhone and BlackBerry.

Thanks to that optimism, just days before Palm reports its quarterly numbers, the company’s stocks got a welcome jolt on Tuesday. Shares were trading nearly 2 percent higher, reaching $12.05 at 11:12 a.m. Eastern.

The stock surprise stemmed from two upgrades. First, on Monday, brokerage firm Jessup & Lamont moved Palm up a notch to neutral, citing stiff, ongoing smartphone competition. But Palm got an upgrade from MKM Partners on Tuesday, and that helped stocks. The broker changed its Palm rating to buy because it expects Palm to launch its webOS devices with Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) sometime in 2010, expanding its carrier base. The much-hyped Pre, sold only through Sprint Nextel Corp., was Palm’s first webOS device.

Meantime, Palm and archrival Research in Motion are expected to unveil fourth-quarter earnings on Thursday after Wall Street’s close.

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