Advance Auto Parts, a Roanoke-based chain of auto parts stores, said last week Sears, Roebuck and Co. would be selling its 24 percent stake in the firm as part of an underwritten offering of shares.

Advance will register Sears' holdings with the Securities and Exchange Commission and hire an investment bank to sell the stock. Sears, which owns about 8.4 million shares, became a major owner in Advance after Advance's 1998 purchase of Sears-owned Western Auto Stores.

Advance's other big shareholder, private investment firm Freeman Spogli & Co., which owns approximately 23 percent of Advance's common stock, will not participate in the offering.


Choice Hotels International, a Silver Spring hotel franchiser, said it would exceed Wall Street's third-quarter estimates of diluted earnings per share of 52 cents by 2 cents. The company, which franchises the brands Clarion, Sleep, Comfort and Quality inns, among others, cited strong growth in its domestic hotels as the reason for improvement. The company will release earnings Oct. 29.


AvalonBay Communities, an Alexandria-based developer of apartment complexes, completed construction of Avalon at Arlington Square II, the second of a two-phase community in Arlington. The second phase of the 842-unit complex cost $42.6 million. Avalon at Arlington Square II is about 63 percent leased. Average monthly rent per home is $1,730.


WGL Holdings, the holding company for Washington Gas Light Co., received a payment of $14.8 million from a weather insurance policy purchased to reduce the impact of warm weather on financial results. Washington Gas generates the majority of its revenue and profit from the delivery of natural gas during the winter heating season and is the beneficiary under the policy. CEO James H. DeGraffenreidt Jr. said the insurance "helped cushion the impact from one of the warmest winters in our company's history." WGL paid $4.25 million in premiums for the policy in its last fiscal year.

Silver Diner, a Rockville-based chain of restaurants, completed its reverse stock split and became a private company last week. Owners of more than 5,000 shares received one share of the company. The firm drastically lowered the number of shareholders by paying 32 cents a share in cash to any stockholder owning fewer than 5,000 shares, bringing the total number of shareholders to less than 200. The firm no longer has to file with the Securities and Exchange Commission, though officials said last week they will continue to post results on the company's Web site. Silver Diner's stock has been hammered by low-performing restaurants.

Compiled from reports by the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, Dow Jones News Service and Washington Post staff writers.