Shares of Homestore ( HOMS) were among Nasdaq's winners Monday, rising 12% after private equity firm Elevation Partners agreed to invest $100 million in the online real estate company. Elevation, which focuses on media and entertainment-related investments and counts rock star Bono among its partners, will invest $100 million in the form of convertible preferred stock. Fred Anderson and Roger McNamee, managing directors and co-founders of Elevation, will join Homestore's board of directors. "Homestore fits perfectly with our investment strategy. The online real estate media opportunity is very large and Homestore is the undisputed leader in the category," Anderson said in a statement. The preferred stock is convertible into Homestore's stock at $4.20 a share. If converted, the investment would represent about 14% of Homestore's outstanding shares. Homestore plans to use the proceeds for general corporate purposes. Shares were recently trading up 43 cents to $3.99. Conn's ( CONN) rose 8% after the home-appliance and electronics retailer reported strong third-quarter sales results. Sales for the quarter rose to $153 million from $115.1 million in the year-ago period. Same-store sales, meanwhile, climbed 23.2%. The retailer, which operates stores in Texas and Louisiana, said hurricanes Katrina and Rita resulted in the loss of 134 store days, but sales were ultimately helped by the disasters as customers replaced damaged appliances and electronics. Shares were up $2.71 to $34.66. Shares of Lafarge North America ( LAF) fell 9% after the construction materials company posted third-quarter results that were weaker than expected. The company earned $172.1 million, or $2.17 a share, on sales of $1.42 billion. Analysts expected earnings of $2.52 a share on sales of $1.49 billion. For last year's period, earnings were $165.6 million, or $2.16 a share, on sales of $1.23 billion. "Increased inflation, reduced cement plant production, and weather disruptions offset the gains we wanted to achieve this quarter," the company said.
Looking ahead, Lafarge said that higher energy prices and inflation are expected to pressure margins the rest of the year. Still, the company said that it expects strong pricing power to continue and has announced additional price increases for 2006. Finally, Lafarge announced a new $100 million stock buyback plan that will begin on Jan. 1 and run through Dec. 31, 2006. Shares recently shed $5.25 to $55.10. TXU ( TXU) rose 5% after the energy company announced a 2-for-1 stock split and a share buyback plan, and also backed its full-year earnings outlook. Shareholders of record on Nov. 18 will be eligible for the 2-for-1 stock split. Shares will be distributed on Dec. 8. As for the buyback plan, the company has been authorized to repurchase up to 34 million shares through the end of 2006. TXU, which raised its 2005 outlook last week when it reported third-quarter earnings, continues to expect full-year operational earnings of $3.25 to $3.35 a share, or $6.50 to $6.70 on a presplit basis. Analysts expect earnings of $6.59 a share. For 2006, TXU sees operational earnings of $5.50 to $5.75 a share, which is adjusted for the split. Analysts, on average, project earnings of $9.92 a share on a presplit basis. Shares were trading up $4.72 to $98.55. Shares of JetBlue Airways ( JBLU) fell modestly after the company sold 7.5 million shares of stock at $18 apiece, resulting in gross proceeds of $135 million. The price represents a 2% discount to Friday's closing price of $18.32. JetBlue will use proceeds from the offering to fund working capital and capital expenditures. Morgan Stanley led the underwriting syndicate. The airline's shares were trading down 5 cents to $18.27. NYSE volume leaders included Pfizer ( PFE), down 6 cents to $22.20; Lucent Technologies ( LU), down 3 cents to $2.75; Chesapeake Energy ( CHK), down $1.07 to $27.97; Guidant ( GDT), down $2.52 to $56.40; Exxon Mobil ( XOM), down 73 cents to $57.17; Time Warner ( TWX), up 2 cents to $17.63; and Citigroup ( C), up 37 cents to $45.97. Nasdaq volume leaders included Intel ( INTC), up 19 cents $24.18; Microsoft ( MSFT), up 9 cents to $26.75; Cisco Systems ( CSCO), down 2 cents to $17.85; Sirius Satellite Radio ( SIRI), down 1 cent to $6.94; Sun Microsystems ( SUNW), unchanged at $3.90; JDSU ( JDSU), down 4 cents to $2.31; Apple Computer ( AAPL), down 20 cents to $60.95; and Oracle ( ORCL), down 10 cents to $12.51.