Updated from 12:17 p.m. EDTAlliance Data ( ADS) was among the NYSE's winners Thursday, as shares vaulted 24.6% after the marketing services company agreed to be acquired by the Blackstone Group for about $7.8 billion. The deal, which also includes assumption of debt, is priced at $81.75 a share, representing a premium of 30% over Alliance Data's closing price of $62.96 on Wednesday. "By maximizing the value of their investment, this agreement is clearly in the best interests of our stockholders," Alliance Data said. "At the same time, it is business as usual for us as we continue to support our clients and partner with them to build loyal, lasting relationships with their customers." The deal is expected to close by the end of the year. Shares of Alliance closed up $15.50 to $78.46. Ctrip.com ( CTRP) rose 8.1% after the online travel agent posted better-than-expected first-quarter results. The company earned $8.4 million, or 25 cents per American Depositary share, on revenue of $30.1 million. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial expected earnings of 24 cents a share on revenue of $28.4 million. Looking ahead, the China-based company sees second-quarter revenue growth of about 35%. Shares closed up $5.86 to $78.07. Shares of J.C. Penney ( JCP) rose 5.3% after the department store operator posted first-quarter earnings that topped expectations. The company earned $238 million, or $1.04 a share, on revenue of $4.35 billion. Analysts expected earnings of $1.03 a share on revenue of $4.39 billion. During the year-earlier quarter, the company earned $210 million, or 89 cents a share, on revenue of $4.22 billion. Looking ahead, J.C. Penney now sees full-year earnings of $5.49 a share, up from an earlier forecast of $5.44 a share. Analysts project earnings of $5.49 a share. Shares closed up $4.02 to $79.74.