Shares of Aztar ( AZR) were among the NYSE's winners Monday, surging 23% after the gaming company agreed to be bought by rival Pinnacle Entertainment ( PNK) in a deal valued around $2.1 billion. Pinnacle will pay $38 a share for Aztar, which represents a 24% premium over Friday's closing price of $30.70. The cash portion of the deal is valued around $1.45 billion; Pinnacle also will acquire about $723 million in debt. The combined company will have 12 gaming properties in the U.S., with a strong presence in Nevada, New Jersey, Louisiana, Missouri and Indiana. The deal is expected to close by the end of the year. Aztar shares recently traded at $37.81, up $7.11, while Pinnacle shares rose $2.13, or 8%, to $30.09. Shares of Top Tankers ( TOPT) jumped 13% after the oil tanker company announced the sale of 13 vessels and declared a special dividend of $5 a share. The company sold the vessels for roughly $550 million, with net proceeds of roughly $240 million. The company also signed a leaseback agreement on the 13 vessels for a period of five to seven years. Top Tankers, which plans to use the majority of the proceeds to pay the special $5 dividend, said that it plans to announce a second dividend of $2.50 a share by the end of March, bringing the total amount of its special dividends to $7.50 a share. The $5 dividend will be payable on March 27 to shareholders of record on March 22. Shares were trading up $1.83 to $15.65. Shares of eCollege ( ECLG) fell 8% after the company announced better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings but warned that first-quarter results would fall below expectations. The company, which provides information services to the education industry, posted earnings of $2 million, or 9 cents a share. Excluding items, the company earned $3.4 million, or 15 cents a share. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call expected earnings of 14 cents a share, before items. ECollege reported revenue of $29.6 million, matching analysts' mean estimate. Last year, the company posted adjusted earnings, which exclude items, of $2.8 million, or 13 cents a share, on revenue of $24.4 million.
Looking ahead, eCollege sees first-quarter adjusted earnings of $2.4 million to $2.7 million, or 11 cents to 12 cents a share. Analysts project earnings of 13 cents a share. The company projects revenue of $26.7 million to $27 million, shy of analysts' estimate of $27.6 million. For the second quarter, the company anticipates revenue of $28 million to $28.8 million. Analysts project revenue of $28.2 million. Shares were lower by $1.50 to $18.46. North Fork Bancorp ( NFB) jumped 17% after the company agreed to be acquired by Capital One Financial ( COF) for roughly $14.6 billion in cash and stock. The deal values North Fork at $31.18 a share, representing a 23% premium over Friday's closing price of $25.40. The deal includes cash of roughly $5.2 billion. The transaction, which is expected to close during the fourth quarter, will be mildly accretive to Capital One's earnings beginning in 2008. Capital One reaffirmed its 2006 earnings of $7.40 to $7.80 a share, excluding the impact of the purchase. Finally, Capital One said it plans to repurchase about $3 billion of its own stock once the acquisition of North Fork is complete. Shares of North Fork were trading up $4.27 to $29.67, while shares of Capital One fell $5.20 to $84.72. CarMax ( KMX) rose 9% after the operator of used-car dealerships lifted its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings guidance. The company now estimates earnings of 37 cents to 39 cents a share, up from an earlier view of 25 cents to 31 cents a share. Analysts project earnings of 28 cents a share for the quarter, which ended Feb. 28. The company attributed the better-than-expected forecast to strong increases in wholesale sales and profits. The revised guidance includes 2 cents a share from favorable adjustments at its CarMax Auto Finance business. Same-store used unit sales declined 3%, which was near the low end of the company's earlier guidance of down 4% to up 2%. "We had a particularly challenging comparison to last year's 12% used unit comps, which included 5 percentage points attributable to rolling out a new subprime finance provider," the company said. "This year, subprime-financed sales represented only approximately 2% of our fourth quarter unit sales, as a result of program changed implemented by the provider. Absent this decline, we would have been slightly above the mid-point of our original comp expectation range." CarMax shares were trading up $2.83 to $33.95.
Shares of Vail Resorts ( MTN) rose 5% after the resort operator posted better-than-anticipated second-quarter results. The company earned $43 million, or $1.12 a share, on total revenue of $288 million. Results included stock-based compensation costs of 3 cents a share. Analysts expected earnings, including stock-based compensation costs, of 94 cents a share and total revenue of $273.8 million. During the year-earlier quarter, the company earned $32.2 million, or 89 cents a share, on revenue of $264.6 million. Vail Resorts also said it plans to repurchase up to 3 million shares of stock under a new buyback plan. "Our board took this action based upon our company's continued strong financial condition and it reflects the board's confidence in Vail Resorts' growth potential, financial outlook, and excess cash flow generation," the company said. Shares were up $1.71 to $36.99. NYSE volume leaders included Advanced Micro Devices ( AMD), down $2 to $34.63; Motorola ( MOT), down 51 cents to $20.33; Lucent Technologies ( LU), up 1 cent to $2.84; Pfizer ( PFE), down 9 cents to $25.99; AT&T ( T), down 6 cents to $27.17; Nortel Networks ( NT), down 6 cents to $2.96; Sprint Nextel ( S), up 37 cents to $25.74; and General Electric ( GE), down 3 cents to $33.62. Nasdaq volume leaders included Finisar ( FNSR), up 59 cents to $4.86; Intel ( INTC), down 2 cents to $19.83; Cisco Systems ( CSCO), up 23 cents to $21.05; Apple Computer ( AAPL), up $2.75 to $65.94; JDSU ( JDSU), up 10 cents to $3.80; Andrx Group ( ADRX), up $2.31 to $23.90; Sirius Satellite Radio ( SIRI), down 8 cents to $4.70; Sun Microsystems ( SUNW), down 3 cents to $4.55; and Microsoft ( MSFT), down 14 cents to $27.03.