Rocket Fuel closes sharply higher; Needham praises new products, checks

Needham's Kerry Rice, who upgraded Rocket Fuel (FUEL +11.7%) to Strong Buy from Buy today, notes shares had fallen hard due to the poor performance of online ad tech plays (see Tremor Video), worries about the future of cookies (used by Rocket Fuel to deliver targeted ads), and the adoption of self-service ad solutions that allow marketers to buy ads directly from sites/platforms, and deems those concerns "overblown."

Rice says industry checks turned up positive commentary about Rocket Fuel, and strengthened her belief the company will outperform expectations next year. She also sees Rocket Fuel's development of a SaaS/cloud-like solution providing a lift.

Evercore recently expressed concerns that rivals are "moving more quickly to a SaaS model."

Shares are up 96% from a September IPO price of $29.

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