Small-cap stocks underperformed the tumbling broad indices for the second straight session Tuesday despite several bouts of good news out of the health-care sector. Xoma ( XOMA), for instance, vaulted 17.5% after saying it has licensed to Pfizer ( PFE) nonexclusive rights to its patented antibody technology. Pfizer will pay the Berkeley, Calif., company $30 million cash upfront for the bacterial cell expression technology in addition to "milestone, royalty and other fees on future sales of all products subject to this license, including products currently in late-stage clinical development." Xoma shares soared 40 cents to $2.68. Pfizer slipped 1.5% to $24.39. Omrix Biopharmaceuticals ( OMRI) jumped 16.5% to $33.86 after the Food and Drug Administration
approved the New York-based company's Evithrom product -- a blood-clotting protein indicated for use during surgery. Elsewhere in the health-care market, Advanced Life Sciences ( ADLS) said the FDA granted orphan drug designation (for drugs that treat rare diseases) to its ALS-357 compound for the topical treatment of metastatic melanoma, a type of skin cancer. That designation makes ALS-357 eligible for seven-year exclusivity on approval, in addition to potential tax credits, R&D grant funding and other benefits. Shares of the Woodridge, Ill., company climbed 6.7% to $1.76. Perceptron ( PRCP), which makes measurement and inspection technology primarily for the automotive industry, also had a quick rise on positive fiscal fourth-quarter financials. The Plymouth, Mich., company said it swung to a profit of $2.3 million, or 26 cents a share, on sales that surged 61.3% year over year to $23.4 million. Shares lately gained 11.7% to $11.62.
Among those on the downswing, however, was poultry processor Sanderson Farms ( SAFM). Shares slid 10.6% after the Laurel, Miss., company fell far below fiscal third-quarter income expectations. Earnings rocketed to $1.51 a share from last year's 16 cents, but this was still 42 cents under Thomson Financial's estimates. Shares were changing hands at $39.20. Environmental Power ( EPG) was also in the red after offering to sell 4.5 million of its shares, in addition to an underwriters' option for 675,000 more to cover any overallotments. Shares of the Portsmouth, N.H., renewable-energy company were down 9.5% to $4.88. More broadly, the Russell 2000 and the S&P SmallCap 600 were each slumping around 2.1%.