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Small-Caps Reveal Real State of Economy

BOSTON (TheStreet) -- The largest U.S. companies, including JPMorgan (JPM) and Intel (INTC), are projecting better days ahead, beating analysts' expectations and helping to drive the Dow past 10,000 points for the first time in year.

But small companies, which constitute a majority of the stock market and the economy, are still suffering, suggesting investors ought to temper their bullishness after the Dow surged more than 50% since March. The following are three lesser-known companies whose profits have been decimated by weak demand. As such, they represent a real portrait of corporate America. Each reported after the close of stock-market trading yesterday.

Jacksonville, Florida-based Landstar System (LSTR) is a transportation and logistics company. Third-quarter net income dropped 39% to $20 million and earnings per share fell 37% to 39 cents. Revenue descended 32% to $501 million.

Landstar posted a quarterly operating margin of 6.5% and a net margin of 4%. Chief Executive Officer Henry Gerkens noted that Landstar's revenue "continued to be negatively impacted by the recession in the domestic and global economies." A point of optimism: The number of loads hauled fell 11%, compared with a 16% drop in the second quarter.

Landstar's stock slumped as much as 3.3% today, putting the company in negative territory for 2009.

Stanley Furniture (STLY) fared worse. The Virginia-based company manufactures and sells wood furniture in the upper price range. Its third-quarter net loss widened 45% to $5.1 million, or $1.01 a share, as revenue fell 29% to $38 million. The company endured a gross, operating and net loss.

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