Small-cap stocks were rising in concert with the rest of the market Friday, even amid disappointing news out of the retail sector. SkillSoft ( SKIL) was among the winners, climbing 13.5% to $8.89 after more than doubling its fiscal second-quarter income to 11 cents a share, or $12.4 million, vs. the same period a year ago. The Nashua, N.H., educational-software company also reported 28.4% higher revenue at $71.5 million to top the $68.3 million mean estimate from Thomson Financial. Esterline Technologies ( ESL), which makes products and systems for the aerospace and defense markets, also beat on sales for the fiscal third quarter and catapulted its bottom line to $38.8 million, or $1.49 a share. Last year the Bellevue, Wash., company earned $11.2 million, or 43 cents a share. Its stock traded up $1.14, or 2.3%, to $50.99. That helped to support the Russell 2000, which gained 1.2% at around 793. The S&P SmallCap 600 performed similarly. Elsewhere, California's Catalyst Semiconductor ( CATS - Get Report) jumped 9% to $5.35 on an upgrade to buy at CE Unterberg Towbin. BB&T Capital Markets raised crafts retailer Jo-Ann Stores ( JAS) to hold from underweight a day after its shares tumbled on a wider-than-expected second-quarter loss. Shares of the Hudson, Ohio, outfit rose 4.9% to $22.73 in partial recovery.
Cost Plus ( CPWM), however, ranked among the sliding retailers with a 17.6% plunge on the heels of poor earnings and a major management change. The home-furnishings chain broadened its fiscal second-quarter loss to 81 cents a share, or $18 million, from 64 cents a share last year (as restated), on a same-store-sales decline of 7.6%. Analysts were expecting the loss to widen by only a penny a share. The company also predicted a next-quarter per-share loss of 73 cents to 80 cents a share -- at least 28 cents short of the Street's target. In addition, the Oakland, Calif., concern announced the departure of Chief Financial Officer Thomas Willardson. Former Senior Vice President Jane Baughman will succeed him. Cost Plus shares lost 88 cents to $4.12. Delia's ( DLIA), a direct-marketer and retailer of products for teenagers, similarly posted a wider-than-expected loss of 16 cents a share. Analysts were looking for the loss to stay flat year over year at 12 cents a share. The New York-based company's stock surrendered 14.9% to $4.56. Finally, women's-apparel retailer Christopher & Banks ( CBK - Get Report) sank 10.8% on word CEO Matthew Dillon has resigned effective Aug. 30, to be replaced by Lorna Nagler of Lane Bryant. CIBC World Markets cut the Minneapolis-based company to sector perform from sector outperform. Shares were trading at $12.10.