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Stock Sale Takes a Bite Out of TXU

Meanwhile, Westar rises as a new CEO comes aboard.

Thanksgiving week kicked off with a menu of bad news from the troubled energy sector.



quickly emerged as the turkey of the industry, shunned by investors with no appetite for the company's freshly diluted stock. Shares of the Plano, Texas, utility slid more than 8% in early trading, following a warning from the company that earnings -- thinned by the issue of 28 million new shares -- will probably fall at the low end of analyst expectations.

Although TXU said it was unprepared to provide fourth-quarter guidance, the company expressed comfort with full-year projections, "which are nearer $2 per share." Analysts polled by Thomson Financial/First Call were expecting between $2.04 and $3.25 a share.

Despite a slight rebound after the early morning news, TXU shares were still down 4.8% to $15.36 less than halfway through the session.

Also losing ground was fellow energy giant

El Paso


. Shares of the Houston-based company slid 3.6% to $10.89 amid worries over next week's pivotal price manipulation hearing before the

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission


But investors shrugged off disappointments elsewhere, gobbling up some of the sector's most battered stocks.

Westar Energy


rallied on news of a CEO switch. David Wittig, charged recently with bank fraud, relinquished Westar's top post to a former executive who's returning to steer the troubled utility. The new CEO, James Haines, was hired away from Westar six years ago to pull a turnaround job at

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El Paso Electric

(EE) - Get El Paso Electric Company Report


Beleaguered Westar investors, clearly hungry for the change, pushed the stock up 13% to $11.03 on news of Haines' arrival.

Elsewhere, the market barely reacted to an involuntary bankruptcy filing at

Xcel Energy

(XEL) - Get Xcel Energy Inc. Report

subsidiary NRG. Xcel's stock actually tacked on a slight gain, climbing 1% to $10.85, despite NRG troubles that could spread to the parent.

Christopher Ellinghaus, an analyst at Williams Capital, on Monday reiterated his warnings about potential risks to Xcel's stock. Specifically, he predicted that Xcel's cash injection for NRG could exceed the $300 million it already has pledged.

"At the very least, we believe the involuntary petition gives creditors more leverage to seek a better deal from Xcel," Ellinghaus said.




rallied -- soaring 14% to $1.26 -- in spite of a downgrade from RBC, which expects the stock to underperform the market. Three other debt-laden energy companies --





(AES) - Get AES Corporation Report


Reliant Resources


-- also posted double-digit percentage gains. Shares of Mirant zoomed up 24% to $2.56. AES climbed 16% to $2.05. And Reliant Resources tacked on 15% to hit $2.64.