Shares of First Republic Bank ( FRC) were among the NYSE's winners Monday, soaring 40% after the investment services company agreed to be acquired by Merrill Lynch ( MER) for $1.8 billion in cash and stock. Merrill Lynch will pay the equivalent of $55 a share, half of which will be paid in cash. The price represents a 44% premium over First Republic's closing price of $38.30 on Friday. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter. Merrill Lynch expects the purchase to be modestly accretive to earnings by the end of 2008. Shares of First Republic were trading up $15.42 to $53.72, while shares of Merrill Lynch fell 81 cents to $93.72. Laureate Education ( LAUR) vaulted 13% after the education company agreed to a $3.1 billion management-led buyout. The investor group, led by CEO Douglas L. Becker and including Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Citigroup Private Equity and SAC Capital, will pay $60.50 a share. The price represents a 23% premium over Laureate's closing price Jan. 4, the day before the company's special committee authorized the negotiation of an agreement. Shares recently were trading at $61.40, up $6.99. Mosaic ( MOS) rose 2% after the animal feed products company posted in-line second-quarter earnings, with better-than-expected revenue. For the quarter ended Nov. 30, the company earned $65.9 million, or 15 cents a share, on revenue of $1.52 billion. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial expected earnings of 15 cents a share and revenue of $1.48 billion. During the year-earlier period, Mosaic earned $55 million, or 13 cents a share, on revenue of $1.5 billion. The year-earlier results included derivative losses of $7.5 million. Shares were trading up 42 cents to $20.37.
Shares of Jacobs Engineering ( JEC) rose 3% after the construction services outfit announced a 2-for-1 stock split. The shares will be distributed around March 15 to shareholders of record as of Feb. 15. The company currently has about 59.1 million shares outstanding. Shares were trading up $2.51 to $90.75. USG ( USG) slipped 4% after the building supplies company posted fourth-quarter results that missed expectations. The company earned $100 million, or $1.11 a share, on revenue of $1.29 billion. Analysts expected earnings of $1.31 a share, with revenue of $1.36 billion. A year earlier, USG recorded a loss of $1.78 billion, or $30.92 a share, on revenue of $1.34 billion. Those results included a $3.1 billion asbestos claims provision. Shares were trading down $2.88 to $52.62. Shares of Sysco ( SYY) fell 3% even though the food-service provider met second-quarter earnings estimates. For the quarter ended Dec. 30, the company's earnings rose to $236.7 million, or 38 cents a share, from $204.2 million, or 33 cents a share, a year earlier. Sales climbed to $8.57 billion from $7.97 billion. Analysts expected earnings of 38 cents a share and sales of $8.6 billion. Shares were trading down $1.30 to $34.80. NYSE volume leaders included Bristol Myers ( BMY), up $1.47 to $27.68; Abitibi-Consolidated ( ABY), up 78 cents to $3.42; Pfizer ( PFE), down 15 cents to $26.14; Ford ( F), up 3 cents to $8.45; Motorola ( MOT), down 19 cents to $18.19; Advanced Micro Devices ( AMD), down 12 cents to $16.10; and Nokia ( NOK), down 14 cents to $21.44. Nasdaq volume leaders included Intel ( INTC), up 32 cents to $20.85; Microsoft ( MSFT), down 9 cents to $30.51; Cisco Systems ( CSCO), down 11 cents to $26.24; Apple ( AAPL), up 90 cents to $86.28; Sun Microsystems ( SUNW), up 2 cents to $6.35; Altiris ( ATRS), up $5.60 to $32.74; and Qualcomm ( QCOM), down 12 cents to $37.39.