After the major benchmarks tumbled roughly 3% on yesterday, the stock market found itself on a roller-coaster ride on Thursday. Early gains turned to losses, then back into gains, then back into losses. By the end of the session, indexes were largely higher, but a few stocks broke out of this pattern with more significant jumps. Here's why Pivotal Software (NYSE:PVTL), Perspecta (NYSE:PRSP), and Agilent Technologies (NYSE:A) surged today.

Pivotal Software nears an acquisition

Shares of cloud platform provider Pivotal Software skyrocketed 68.7% after the company disclosed that it was in discussions with VMware regarding a possible acquisition. While no definitive agreement has been executed, the company is working on negotiating a deal that would see VMware acquire all outstanding Pivotal Class A shares for $15 in cash each.

A rising blue and orange chart.

Image source: Getty Images.

This process is complicated by the ownership structure of these companies. As of May 3, Dell Technologies owned a 61.4% stake in Pivotal and an 80.6% stake in VMware. While the $15 offer price is much higher than where Pivotal has been trading recently, it's well below its 52-week high of roughly $29. Shares of Pivotal tumbled in June after the company slashed its full-year guidance.

Perspecta raises its guidance

Perspecta stock jumped 10.5% after the U.S. government services provider reported solid fiscal first-quarter results and boosted its guidance for the full year. Revenue of $1.1 billion was up 7% year over year on an adjusted basis, beating the average analyst estimate by $20 million. The defense and intelligence segment was the star performer, with revenue rising 13% to $752 million. Adjusted earnings per share came in at $0.52, down slightly from the prior-year period but $0.02 better than analysts were expecting.

On top of beating expectations, Perspecta raised its full-year outlook. The company now expects revenue between $4.4 billion and $4.5 billion, up $50 million from previous guidance. Adjusted EPS should be between $2.08 and $2.18, a few cents higher than the company's earlier outlook.

Agilent beats expectations

Shares of Agilent gained 6.1% after the lab equipment and services provider reported better fiscal third-quarter results than expected. Revenue surged 6% year over year to $1.27 billion, driven by double-digit growth in the Agilent CrossLab group and the diagnostics and genomics group. Analysts were expecting revenue to be $30 million lower. Adjusted earnings per share rose 13% to $0.76, also beating analyst estimates.

With a strong third quarter in the books, Agilent raised its guidance for the full year. The company now forecasts revenue between $5.105 billion and $5.125 billion, and adjusted EPS between $3.07 and $3.09. This guidance doesn't include any impact from the acquisition of BioTek, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter and strengthen the company's cell analysis segment.

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