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Early Stocks in Motion

Optimal Group (OPMR) raised its earnings guidance for the third quarter. The processor of credit card payments said it now expects pretax earnings greater than $10.6 million compared with its previous forecast of $9.8 million. The stock was up 39 cents, or 2.08%, to $19.18 after hours.

Alcoa (AA) said it earned $289 million, or 33 cents a share, for the third quarter ended Sept. 30, versus $283 million, or 32 cents a share, a year ago. Revenue for the quarter rose to $6.6 billion from $5.8 billion last year. "A reduced upstream pricing environment and higher energy costs affected our results," the company said. Analysts expected earnings of 29 cents a share on revenue of $6.6 billion, according to Thomson First Call. Alcoa was higher by 42 cents, or 1.85%, to $23.08 in after-hours trading.

SigmaTel (SGTL) lowered its earnings guidance for the third quarter ended Sept. 30. It cited equipment issues at its test and assembly facilities coupled with heavy back-end loaded demand for its products during the second half of September. The semiconductor company now expects revenue to be $74.4 million with gross margins lower than forecast at 51% for the quarter. SigmaTel expects its net income to be 10 cents below the lower end of the range of its previous forecast. The stock was down $1.36, or 7.9%, to $15.85 in after-hours trading.

MeadWestvaco (MWV) announced that its Texas and Louisiana facilities have resumed production after being shut down for 10 days due to Hurricane Rita. The global packaging company said it expects third-quarter earnings to be lowered by 7 cents to 10 cents a share, excluding adjustments for hurricane-related insurance reimbursement, due to the production downtime. The stock was unchanged at $25.74.

eBay (EBAY) and VeriSign (VRSN) announced that they have formed a strategic alliance in which the companies will collaborate on payment services and security initiatives for e-commerce. Under the agreement, eBay's PayPal will acquire VeriSign's payment gateway business for $370 million in cash or stock, or both. PayPal said it expects the acquisition to generate $100 million of revenue in 2006. eBay was unchanged at $40.46 and VeriSign was up 97 cents, or 4.84%, to $21.01.

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