Updated from 11:12 a.m. ESTShares of Party City ( PCTY) were among the Nasdaq's winners Thursday, rising 10.5% after the company said it is exploring strategic alternatives and announced the resignation of its chief executive. The retailer of party goods and supplies said that it has received inquiries from more than one entity interested in merging with it. Party City said that it has not accepted any proposal or agreed to any other action and cautioned that there can be no assurance that a deal would be consummated. The company also announced that Nancy Pedot stepped down as CEO. Pedot, the company said, would serve as a consultant on an "as needed basis" going forward. "The board's recent initiatives are likely to take the company in a different strategic direction, which is their prerogative," Pedot said in a statement. "For me personally, I believe this is an appropriate time to pursue other opportunities." A newly formed executive committee will assume Pedot's CEO responsibilities. Shares traded up $1.39 to $14.63. Hartmarx ( HMX) rose 7.6% after the maker of business, casual and golf apparel posted first-quarter earnings and sales that were better than expected. The company earned $4.2 million, or 11 cents a share, up from $2.2 million, or 6 cents a share, a year ago. Sales came in at $143.8 million, up from $136.6 million during last year's first quarter. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call expected earnings of 8 cents a share on sales of $134.4 million. Earnings were helped by higher sales and improved margins in the company's men's and women's segments. Looking ahead, Hartmarx said that it remains comfortable with a 2005 earnings increase of 30% to 40% on sales growth that will be in the low to midsingle-digit range. Shares traded up 67 cents to $9.54.