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Thursday's Small-Cap Winners & Losers

Vasco falls on an earnings miss and downgrade.
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Joining the broader market, small-cap stocks ticked up early Thursday only to drop back down as a slew of earnings statements and buyout offers caused much of the commotion.

Disappointing earnings bruised shares of several small-caps. Software security provider



dropped 35% to $11.82. For the fourth quarter, the Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., company posted a profit of $3.3 million, or 9 cents a share, down from $5.1 million, or 13 cents a share, a year ago. Analysts were seeking 20 cents a share. Brean Murray downgraded the stock to hold from buy.

Lithia Motors

(LAD) - Get Lithia Motors, Inc. Report

also took a plunge, down 28% to $10.50. Last night, the Medford, Ore.-based purveyor of autos and auto parts said it swung to a pro forma loss of $5.1 million, or 26 cents a share, missing the average analyst prediction for a per-share profit of 27 cents. In the year-ago quarter, Lithia netted income of $5.5 million, or 27 cents a share. For 2008, the company guided for EPS between $1 and $1.30. Wall Street is looking for $1.68.

On the upside of the action, shares of St. Louis, Mo.- based

Furniture Brands


surged 23% to $12.70 after third-largest shareholder Sun Capital announced in a letter to

Security and Exchange Commision

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an offer to buy the furniture maker at a premium over its Tuesday closing price of $10.18.

Also on the rise,

HLTH Corp.


, an Elmwood Park, N.J., health information company, saw shares jump 20% to $12.10 on fourth-quarter earnings and a merger agreement. The company posted income before interest, taxes, non-cash and other items of $40.3 million, or 17 cents a share, on revenue of $145.8 million. HLTH also announced it will merge into its 84% owned subsidiary,



. Per the deal, each HLTH share will be worth 0.1979 shares of WebMD and $6.89 in cash, subject to adjustment.

Marketing services company

Valassis Communications


climbed 12% to $11.64 after posting fourth-quarter earnings of $20.6 million, or 43 cents a share, vs. $6.9 million, or 14 cents a share, a year ago. The Street's view was for 35 cents a share. The Livonia, Mich.-based firm also reaffirmed guidance for 2008 for adjusted EPS between $2.14 and $2.39.

More broadly, the Russell 2000 was down 1.2% at 701.63, and the S&P SmallCap 600 slipped 1.1% at 370.99.