Small-cap stocks clung to the lower reaches of the broader market Thursday, largely moving in sync with the lukewarm Dow Jones Industrial Average. Weighing things down were several health stocks, among them Progen Pharmaceuticals ( PGLA), an Australia-based biotech that agreed to sell 6.9 million of its shares to institutional and other investors for a heavily discounted price of $4.75 apiece. Shares were plunging 19.9% to $4.83 in recent trading. Monogram Biosciences ( MGRM) lost a penny more than the Street had expected, according to Thomson Financial, and came in under sales estimates. Shares of the diagnostic-substances maker lost 11.4% to $1.64. Fellow Californian Clarient ( CLRT), purveyor of cancer-related diagnostic services, sank 13.2% to $2.10 after posting a first-quarter continuing-operations loss of 6 cents a share that missed two analysts' estimates by 2 cents. Meanwhile, medical-products maker Thoratec ( THOR), of Pleasanton, Calif., plunged 14.5% to $17.01 despite edging out top- and bottom-line estimates for the first quarter. Town Sports International ( CLUB), a New York-based fitness-club operator, was off 9.4% to $20.54 after widening its GAAP-based first-quarter loss. Small tech losers included semiconductor-equipment maker Axcelis Technologies ( ACLS), which reported first-quarter income that fell just under the Street's 4-cent-per-share targets, and Optelecom-NKF ( OPTC), a communications-equipment maker that swung to a first-quarter loss vs. last year. Axcelis, based in Beverly, Mass., plummeted 19.2% to $6.63. Maryland-based Optelecom tumbled 19.8% to $6.71.
On the other hand, California-based Hansen Medical ( HNSN) shot up more than 20% to $22.75 after the Food and Drug Administration approved for commercialization its Sensei Robotic Catheter System and Artisan Control Catheter, a platform that assists physicians during the diagnostic phase of complex cardiac arrhythmia treatment. EpiCept ( EPCT) said a midphase trial of its NP-1 cream pain medication achieved its primary endpoint in patients with a painful condition called post-herpetic neuralgia. Shares of the Tarrytown, N.Y., company were leaping 11% to $3.24. Another health name, Albany Molecular Research ( AMRI) vaulted 11.7% to $10.73 after first-quarter income totaled a dime a share vs. 6 cents a year ago. Analysts were looking for profits to flat-line with last year. Also coming in higher than anticipated were staffing-services firm Hudson Highland ( HHGP), recently leaping 12.2% to $18.99; wireless-products maker Ntelos ( NTLS), which added 9.4% to $22.21; and PGT ( PGTI), maker of impact-resistant windows and doors, lately up 13.3% to $11.90. The Russell 2000 and S&P SmallCap 600 indices were both up slightly.