NEW YORK ( Stockpickr) -- Ongoing economic troubles may spell real trouble for large-cap stocks. More than 60% of the stocks in the S&P 500 count on European divisions for at least 25% of their sales. So any drag from Europe is likely to dampen profit growth in 2012 for these blue-chips.
That's not the case with small-cap stocks. These firms tend to stay closer to home, and they are more fully exposed to the ups and down of the U.S. economy. Good thing that. Right now, the U.S. economy is showing signs of life, and it could expand at a 2% to 3% pace this year, even as most European economies contract.
You can find the small-cap stocks best-positioned to ride a firming U.S. economy by reviewing recently released quarterly results. To paraphrase Newton's Law of Motion, a company that tops estimates tends to keep topping estimates.So we went in search of small-caps that recently topped consensus profit forecasts by a whopping 40%. We focused on stocks with a market value between $250 million and $1 billion, weeding out any stocks that trade less than 75,000 shares a day. We also wanted to be sure these companies toped earnings forecasts by a nickel. (Earnings 3 cents a share instead of a forecasted 2 cents a share isn't all that impressive). Here's what we came up with. These 13 companies recently delivered "blow-out quarterly results. Here's a profile of three of them that you should consider for your portfolio.