Cascade Natural Gas ( CGC) surged on news the Seattle-based company will be acquired by MDU Resources Group ( MDU) in a deal valued at $475 million, including debt. Under the terms of the agreement, MDU Resources will acquire Cascade for $26.50 a share in cash, a 23% premium to the Friday closing share price. The transaction has been approved by the boards of both companies. MDU Resources said Cascade's customer base in Washington and Oregon will roughly double the number of its natural gas-utility customers. Cascade serves 235,000 customers in 93 communities. MDU expects the acquisition to add to its earnings. Shares of Cascade gained $3.84, or 17.9%, to $25.30 in recent trading. MDU was up 49 cents, or 1.4%, to $36.51. Cash America International ( CSH) climbed after the Fort Worth, Texas, pawn-shop operator said its second-quarter earnings should exceed its previous guidance. The company now expects a profit of 30 cents to 31 cents a share, up from its past view of 26 cents to 28 cents. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call are looking for earnings of 28 cents a share. A year ago the company earned 23 cents a share. Separately, the company said it agreed to buy the assets of CashNetUSA, an online cash-advance business, for about $35 million, with the opportunity for the price to increase based on future earnings. Shares gained $2.44, or 7.9%, to $33.25. PriceSmart ( PSMT) gained after the San Diego-based warehouse-club operator posted a profit for the third quarter. The company earned $3.2 million, or 11 cents a share, compared with a loss of $13.1 million, or 49 cents a share, a year ago. Revenue increased to $184.6 million from $154.5 million last year. For the four weeks ended July 2, comparable warehouse sales for stores open at least 12 months increased 13.2% from a year ago. PriceSmart also said it was added to the Russell 2000 Index when Russell Investment Group reconstituted its family of U.S. indexes on June 30. Shares were up $1.55, or 15.2%, to $11.72.
Connetics ( CNCT), a specialty pharmaceutical company, sank by one-third after it said revenue and earnings for the second quarter and the full year would be materially below its past guidance. The company attributed the shortfall, in part, to lower orders from an international distributor and its decision to reduce wholesaler inventory by shipping product volumes that were below the estimated prescription demand. Shares of Connetics were dropping $4.07, or 34.8%, to $7.62. Linktone ( LTON), a China-based wireless services provider, was dropping after the company said its results could be hurt by the new policies being introduced by several mobile-network operators. In order to reduce subscriber complaints and increase overall customer satisfaction, three operators in China have announced policy changes that Linktone believes will be implemented in the coming three months. The changes will likely hurt Linktone's results, the company said. Shares of Linktone fell 64 cents, or 12.5%, to $4.50.