Shares of Big Lots ( BIG) were among the NYSE's winners Thursday, jumping 14% after the closeout retailer posted better-than-expected third-quarter results and boosted its full-year guidance. The company earned $1.7 million, or 2 cents a share, for the third quarter. Excluding items, the company earned $7.9 million, or 7 cents a share. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call expected a loss of 3 cents a share. Big Lots' revenue totaled $1.05 billion, beating Wall Street's forecast of $1.02 billion, while same-store sales increased 5.8%. A year earlier, the company reported a loss of $18.8 million, or 17 cents a share, on revenue of $991.4 million. Big Lots now sees full-year earnings of 85 cents to 90 cents a share, up from an earlier view of 62 cents to 67 cents a share. Analysts, on average, project earnings of 71 cents a share. Shares were trading up $3.15 to $25.30. Clear Channel Communications ( CCU) rose 4% after the radio station operator agreed to be acquired by an investment group in a deal valued at $26.7 billion. The deal, which includes the assumption of about $8 billion in debt, values Clear Channel at $37.60 a share. That price represents a 10% premium over Wednesday's closing price and a 25% premium over Clear Channel's average closing price of $29.99 during the 30 trading days ended Oct. 24, the day before the company announced it was evaluating strategic alternatives. Clear Channel is free to solicit competing bids from third parties through Dec. 7 and may negotiate with parties that submit bids until Jan. 5. Shares recently changed hands at $35.50, up $1.38.
Shares of Reader's Digest ( RDA) rose 8% after it agreed to be acquired by an investment group led by private equity firm Ripplewood Holdings for about $1.61 billion in cash. The private equity group will pay $17 a share, or a premium of $10 over Wednesday's closing price of $15.51. Including the assumption of debt, the deal is worth $2.4 billion. The acquisition is expected to close during the first quarter of 2007. Shares of Reader's Digest were up $1.11 to $16.62. New York & Co. ( NWY) rose 8% after the apparel retailer posted better-than-expected third-quarter earnings and gave a full-year profit forecast at the high end of its previous guidance. For the third quarter, the company earned $9.6 million, or 16 cents a share, more than double the year-earlier profit of $4.2 million, or 7 cents a share. Revenue rose to $270.9 million from $254.4 million, while same-store sales climbed 0.5%. Analysts expected earnings of 15 cents a share on revenue of $274.5 million. For the full year, New York & Co. now expects earnings of 74 cents to 83 cents a share, up from its prior guidance of 70 cents to 82 cents. The company narrowed its sales forecast to a range of $1.19 billion to $1.21 billion from an earlier view of $1.20 billion to $1.22 billion. Shares were trading at $14.33, up $1.04. Shares of Pantry ( PTRY) tumbled 13% after the convenience-store operator gave a disappointing guidance for the coming year. For the fourth quarter ended Sept. 28, the company earned $26.7 million, or $1.16 a share, up from $25.4 million, or $1.12 a share, a year earlier. The results beat Wall Street's target by a penny. Revenue rose to $1.69 billion from $1.38 billion, exceeding analysts' average projection of $1.66 billion. For fiscal 2007, however, Pantry forecast earnings of $2.80 to $3 a share, well below analysts' forecast of $3.32. The company said the guidance incorporates the likelihood of relatively low gasoline gross margins in the first quarter. Shares were trading down $6.95 to $46.31.
Williams-Sonoma ( WSM) shares slid 8% after the retailer reported third-quarter results and cut its fourth-quarter projections. For the period ended Oct. 29, the company earned $29.1 million, or 25 cents a share, on revenue of $852.8 million. Analysts expected earnings of 24 cents a share and revenue of $859.6 million. The company's same-store sales for the quarter were flat. A year earlier, the company earned $37.1 million, or 31 cents a share, on revenue of $827.6 million. Looking ahead, Williams-Sonoma now sees fourth-quarter earnings of $1 to $1.06 a share. Previously, the company predicted earnings of $1.15 to $1.21 a share. The company anticipates revenue of $1.23 billion to $1.26 billion, down from an earlier view of $1.28 billion to $1.31 billion. Analysts, on average, had forecast earnings of $1.16 a share and revenue of $1.29 billion. Willams-Sonoma shares were down $2.77 to $32.41. The NYSE's volume leaders were Clear Channel, Reader's Digest, Motorola ( MOT), up 12 cents to $22.38; Nortel ( NT), down 3 cents to $2; Halliburton ( HAL), down 56 cents to $32.99; EMC ( EMC), unchanged at $12.70; Pfizer ( PFE), up 30 cents to $26.83; Ford ( F), up 16 cents to $9.16; and Lucent Technologies ( LU), up 3 cents to $2.59. Nasdaq volume leaders included Intel ( INTC), down 7 cents to $22.35; Applied Materials ( AMAT), down 76 cents to $17.89; Dell ( DELL), down $1.19 to $24.56; Cisco Systems ( CSCO), up 29 cents to $26.89; Sirius Satellite Radio ( SIRI), down 4 cents to $4.09; BEA Systems ( BEAS), down $2.17 to $13.52; and Microsoft ( MSFT), up 22 cents to $29.34.