Hot Stock Roundup: Why These Companies Popped

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Lowe's (NYS: LOW) saw its shares trading unusually higher today, following its earnings release. The company reported $0.35 per share, topping analyst estimates of $0.33. Sales were up 2.3% to $11.6 billion, but net income dropped to $225 million.

It's a mixed bag of results. Much of the company's quarterly success has been attributed to higher sales following Hurricane Irene and the company's lower prices. Since Lowe's can't manufacturer natural disasters, and rival Home Depot (NYS: HD) is likely to benefit from the event in the same fashion, this news doesn't push Lowe's ahead as the new home-improvement king. As for lower prices, although they may drive sales higher, they'll also pinch margins going forward. But it's a necessary move to keep pace with Home Depot.

Lowe's also recently announced the closure of 20 underperforming U.S. locations and the elimination of 2,000 jobs, including 1,700 middle-management positions. This move leaves a vacuum in markets where rival Home Depot will probably pick up market share, and the company will realize expenses related to the elimination in the short term.

Cray (NAS: CRAY) , meanwhile, saw its shares rise by more than 8.5% today on news that a University of Illinois research center awarded it a $188 million contract to build a supercomputer, a task that was previously being attempted by IBM (NYS: IBM) but was abandoned late this summer. (IBM, incidentally, also made its own headlines today on news that Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathawaypurchased a 5.5% stake in the company.)

The supercomputer project Cray is undertaking has fringe winners as well. Advanced Micro Devices (NYS: AMD) and NVIDIA (NAS: NVDA) will supply roughly 49,000 microprocessors and 3,000 graphics chips, respectively, to the University of Illinois computer system. Filling the vacuum left by IBM on the supercomputer project is good news for Cray, which is currently trading at a P/E of just 6, even after the share-price jump. The Seattle-based company will now get a chance to show off its chops by possibly achieving what the supercomputer guru couldn't.

And finally,Bluegreen (NYS: BXG) made the biggest splash today, with a 45% share-price climb. The small-cap resort and timeshare-sales company penned a merger agreement with BFC Financial this morning. It's no wonder BFC Financial was eager to pick up the company, as earnings per share made a Herculean climb from a $0.02 loss this quarter last year to a $0.30-per-share performance. Free cash flow was $116.7 million for the first three quarters of the year and $41.4 million for the most recent quarter. Sales also climbed from $34 million in Q3 2011, up from $22.1 million in Q3 2010. BFC looks to have picked up a company with a lot of momentum behind it, and it should handsomely reward the new parent if it doesn't fiddle with the company's formula for success too much.

Interested to see how these companies perform going forward, and whether any more big share-price jumps are in their future? Please feel free to add these companies to My Watchlist. It's a free service offered by The Motley Fool that will keep you up to date on all each company's recent news and analysis.

At the time this article was published Foolish editor Austin Smith owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway B shares, but no other companies mentioned here. The Motley Fool owns shares of IBM and Berkshire Hathaway.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Home Depot, NVIDIA, Berkshire Hathaway, and Lowe's and writing covered calls in Lowe's and puts in NVIDIA. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

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