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Early Stocks in Motion

Blackboard (BBBB) announced after the close of trading Wednesday that it agreed to buy WebCT, an enterprise software provider to the education community, in a deal valued at $180 million. The final value of the offer will very depending on WebCT's cash balance at closing. The transaction is expected to close late this year or in early 2006.

Blackboard, a provider of enterprise software to the education industry, also reiterated its third-quarter and full-year earnings guidance, but offered an initial 2006 projection below analysts' average forecast. The company sees 2006 earnings of 73 cents to 77 cents a share, with revenue of $155 million to $159 million. Analysts, according to Thomson First Call, expect 2006 earnings of 89 cents a share and revenue of $160 million. The guidance excludes any impact from the WebCT buy. Blackboard's stock fell 68 cents, or 3%, to $22.24 in after-hours trading.

Lam Research (LRCX - Get Report) posted quarterly results that dropped from a year earlier but beat Wall Street's predictions. The maker of semiconductor-processing equipment said it earned $49.5 million, or 35 cents a share, for the quarter ended Sept. 25, down from $89.8 million, or 64 cents a share, a year ago. The company posted revenue for the quarter of $320.9 million, compared with $419.5 million last year. Analysts polled by First Call expected a profit of 30 cents a share on revenue of $325.2 million. The stock rose by $1.12, or 3.7%, to $31.32 after hours.

Bell Microproducts (BELM) said it expects to report third-quarter net income in the range of 7 cents to 9 cents a share, well below analysts' mean estimate of 16 cents a share. The provider of computer products estimated third-quarter revenue to be $760 million, shy of analysts' projection of $832 million.

"There were several factors impacting sales and profits including currency effects, decisions to eliminate certain low and marginally profitable product sales, and a weaker than expected market in the third quarter in the markets in which we operate in Europe," said W. Donald Bell, president and CEO of Bell Microproducts, in a statement. In an effort to reduce expenses in its European market, the company is restructuring its operations in Europe, resulting in a pretax charge of $7 million to $12 million over the next few quarters. The stock plunged $1.65, or 16.8%, to $8.15 in after-hours trading.
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