Small stocks piggybacked atop the cheery larger market Friday amid waves of earnings news. Among the bigger winners was Spectrum Brands ( SPC), shares of which shot up 15.2% after a Bear Stearns analyst upped its rating to outperform despite a wider-than-expected fiscal second-quarter loss. The analyst cited a striking improvement in the fundamentals for the Atlanta-based maker of batteries and other products. Shares added $1 to $8.19. Texas-based Abatix ( ABIX), which distributes personal-protection and safety equipment, soared 19.2% to $9.25 in unusually high trading volume after per-share earnings in the first quarter vaulted 61.5% year over year to 21 cents, or $359,000. U.S. Auto Parts Network ( PRTS), of California, jumped 11.4% to $6.57 on a penny EPS beat and an upgrade courtesy of RBC Capital Markets. Meanwhile, Needham & Co. upped NovAtel ( NGPS) to buy after the Canada-based company reported first-quarter earnings that were in line with analyst targets. Shares of NovAtel, which makes global positioning systems, lifted by 10% to $37.70. Elsewhere, Kansas-based ICOP Digital ( ICOP), which makes surveillance products, shaved a penny off its year-ago per-share loss to 14 cents, and revenue nearly tripled to $2.3 million. These figures missed two analysts' predictions, but shares still climbed 15.8% to $9.08. On the flip side, Distributed Energy Systems ( DESC) plummeted 45% to 76 cents after the Wallingford, Conn., electric-power-systems builder broadened its first-quarter loss to 37 cents vs. a loss of 20 cents a share a year ago. Analysts were looking for losses to stay flat with last year.
Opteum ( OPX), a Florida-based mortgage investor, tumbled 25% to $4.08 after its first-quarter loss widened significantly, mostly due to operations at its majority-owned unit Opteum Financial Services. Its per-share loss came to $3.14, compared with a loss of 34 cents last year. Shares of Maryland's Dialysis Corp. of America ( DCAI) lost 10.8% to $10.03 on waning first-quarter earnings of 4 cents a share, which misses the sole analyst's estimate by 7 cents, and oil-and-gas driller Transmeridian Exploration ( TMY), of Houston, sank 3.6% to $2.39 on a wider-than-expected first-quarter loss (also per the only analyst's estimate). More broadly, however, the Russell 2000 ratcheted up 10.36 points, or 1.3%, to 828.99, and the S&P SmallCap 600 jumped 4.89 points, or 1.2%, to 430.58.