Small stocks shot up Wednesday to fly high above the sprightly broad market as names like

Kellwood

( KWD) surged.

Shares were up 26% to $19.11 after private-investment firm Sun Capital

offered to buy out the St. Louis outdoor-apparel maker for $21 a share in cash -- a 38.4% premium to Kellwood's Tuesday closing price.

Dress Barn

( DBRN), a women's-apparel retailer, said fiscal fourth-quarter income soared 37.1% year over year to 48 cents a share, or $33.6 million, as same-store sales gained 5% and total revenue climbed 10.7% to $379.9 million. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were seeking 42 cents a share on $376.9 million in sales. In addition, the Suffern, N.Y., company pegged its fiscal 2008 profit above consensus.

Dress Barn shares traded 2.9% higher, which, along with Kellwood's gains, lent support to both the Russell 2000 and the S&P SmallCap 600. The trackers lately jumped 1% and 0.9% repectively.

Leaping on upgrades, meanwhile, were fellow members of both trackers --

Robbins & Myers

(RBN)

, which makes systems for the pharmaceutical, energy and industrial markets, and

Plexus

(PLXS) - Get Report

, a purveyor of electronic-product-realization services.

Robert W. Baird bumped up Robbins' rating to outperform from neutral, boosting shares by 12% to $58.20, and J.P. Morgan said Plexus will see accelerating revenue growth as it reaps benefit from recently inked contracts. He upped the stock to overweight. Shares climbed 6.6% to $25.37.

Elsewhere, biopharmaceutical company

Renovis

( RNVS) vaulted 17.5% on word of a stock-swap merger agreement with Germany's

Evotec

valued around $4.75 a share. The roughly $151.8 million deal, which would give Renovis holders up to 31.2% of the combined company, should close by the first quarter. Evotec will also pursue a

Nasdaq

listing. Shares of California-based Renovis were trading at $3.90.

Among the few small-cap losers, meanwhile,

Insteel Industries

(IIIN) - Get Report

lost 10.8% on a disappointing outlook. Mount Airy, N.C., company, which makes of steel-wire-reinforcing products for concrete construction, projected that shipments for the current quarter ending Sept. 29 will slip between 7% and 13% from year-ago figures, reversing a prior forecast for higher shipment levels. Insteel blamed housing-market troubles, among other things, and said it can't currently determine the exact impact on per-share earnings. Shares gave up $2.01 to $16.57.