Updated from 2:37 p.m. EST with new stock prices
On an up-and-down trading day, small-cap stocks rode the same wave as the major indices, mostly staying in positive territory but hesitating to make substantial gains.
Agria (GRO), a Beijing-based vendor of upstream agricultural products for China, sprouted up 9.2% to $8.28 on expectations for a better-than-expected fourth quarter and raised first-quarter guidance. For the fourth quarter, the company forecast a 60% to 70% year-over-year revenue increase to between $31.8 million and $33.8 million. For the first quarter, it expects revenue to rise 15% year over year to $17.9 million.
Meanwhile, Houston's Tesco (TESO - Get Report), which creates technology solutions for the upstream energy industry, jumped 13.3% to $23.45 on fourth-quarter earnings. The company posted income of $6.6 million, or 18 cents a share, vs. $10.5 million, or 29 cents a share, in 2006. This year's fourth-quarter earnings include a $1.2 million loss related to expiration of its Turnkey E&P warrants. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial were looking for EPS of 17 cents, excluding items.Cubic (CUB - Get Report), a San Diego purveyor of defense electronics and transportation fare collection systems rose 11.9% to $28.45 on a BB&T Capital Markets upgrade to hold from underweight. On the other side of the tape, Smith Micro Software (SMSI - Get Report) gave up 12.7% to $5.62 after JPMorgan downgraded the Aliso Viejo, Calif., wireless communications software company to neutral from overweight. Shares of ethanol company Verenium (VRNM) got pounded down 12.5% to $3.08 after the Cambridge, Mass., firm announced a $54 million convertible debt offering. Verenium is issuing senior convertible notes maturing April 1, 2012, and exchanging $16.7 million of these notes for $18.5 million of existing 5.5% convertible senior notes. The company said it was raising the money for general working capital purposes. Axcelis (ACLS - Get Report), a semiconductor equipment maker, climbed 1% to $5.21 after its board unanimously rejected a takeover offer by Japanese firm Sumimoto Heavy Industries and its private equity partner, TPG. Under the proposed deal, Sumimoto would buy all of Axcelis common stock at a price of $5.20 per share. More broadly, the Russell 2000 and S&P SmallCap 600 were both recently up over 2% at 710.45 and 376.49, respectively.