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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

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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


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.



raised its sales and margin projections for the third quarter, citing a favorable product mix shift to a higher percentage of 100 gigabyte and above-high-capacity 3.5-inch disks, which led to an increase in the average selling price. The supplier of thin-film for disk drives now expects to report third-quarter revenue of $180 million and net margins of 17% to 18%. The company's previous estimate called for revenue of $172 million and gross margins of 16%. Analysts were expecting revenue of $175 million, according to First Call. The stock was up $1.31, or 4.7%, to $29.13 in after-hours trading.


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said same-store sales for its namesake restaurants increased 3.9% in September. The fast-food giant attributed the strong sales to a positive response to its new premium chicken sandwiches and a strong breakfast business. The company said U.S. same store sales increased 2.7% and European same-store sales rose 6.6%. For the third quarter, McDonald's expects to post earnings of 58 cents a share, including a gain of 2 cents a share related to the completion of the transfer of its ownership interest in an international market. Excluding the gain, the estimate is 2 cents above First Call's mean analyst projection. McDonald's rose 43 cents, or 1.4%, to $32.10 after hours.

Spartan Stores

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said it earned $6.85 million, or 32 cents a share, for the second quarter ended Sept. 10, compared with $6.95 million, or 34 cents a share, a year ago. The grocery distributor posted revenue for the quarter of $485.5 million, down from $486.7 million last year. Analysts expected a profit of 31 cents a share, according to First Call. The stock was down 43 cents, or 4.8%, to $8.50 in the after-hours session.

Veritas DGC


reported net income of $46.2 million, or $1.31 a share, for the fourth quarter ended July 31, up sharply from net income of $8.5 million, or 25 cents a share, a year ago. Revenue for the quarter was $136.7 million, roughly flat from a year ago. The latest quarter's results include a reversal of $36.9 million of valuation allowances on certain deferred tax assets, which resulted in a net tax benefit of $37.3 million. Analysts expected earnings of 14 cents a share, before items, on revenue of $142.9 million, according to First Call. The stock was up 9 cents to $34.55 after hours.



said it has been selected as an authorized reseller for Panasonic Security Systems. "This exciting partnership enables IPIX to continue its growth in digital video surveillance and allows us to be a more complete solutions provider," said Clara Conti, CEO of IPIX, in a statement. The company's stock jumped 21 cents, or 8.3%, to $2.75 in after-hours trading.