UPDATE 1-BlackBerry shares rally as investors eye property sale windfall

Wed Jan 22, 2014 4:09pm EST
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(Adds details on AirWatch deal, analyst comment, background)

By Euan Rocha

TORONTO Jan 22 (Reuters) - Shares of BlackBerry Ltd , which have been on a tear so far this year, rallied again on Wednesday as investors eyed a cash windfall from the technology company's plans to sell its Canadian real estate assets.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based company said on Tuesday it plans to divest most of the property it owns in Canada to bolster its balance sheet. Analysts believe the move will give the struggling smartphone maker more breathing room, as it attempts to alter strategic direction and turn its faded fortunes around.

The stock was also lifted by cloud software maker VMware Inc's move to acquire privately held mobile security company AirWatch for $1.54 billion, as analysts opined the deal value suggests BlackBerry's own mobile device management business is significantly undervalued.

BlackBerry shares surged 8.6 percent to a preliminary close at $10.78 on Nasdaq, while the Toronto-listed stock jumped 9.9 percent to end at C$11.96.

BlackBerry's stock has been by far the best performer on the Toronto Stock Exchange's top 60 index in the new year, having risen 50 percent so far in 2014. The next biggest gainer is Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, up almost 22 percent, while the index up just 2.5 percent year-to-date.