SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — U.S. small-cap stocks closed higher Friday with shares of American Public Education Inc. and SEACOR Holdings Inc. in focus.
The S&P Small Cap 600 index /zigman2/quotes/210599868/delayed SML -1.11% rose 0.27% to 441.28. Some 357 stocks in the index rose while 226 fell and 17 were unchanged.
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In New York trading American Public Education Inc. /zigman2/quotes/204992319/composite APEI +2.00% rose 23.9% to $43.49. The company posted better-than-expected results late Thursday.
Shares of On Assignment Inc. /zigman2/quotes/208971578/composite ASGN +2.02% rose 17.1% to 10.41. Late Thursday the staffing company reported a 21% rise in fourth-quarter revenues and net income of $2.8 million, or 8 cents a share.
Merit Medical Systems Inc. /zigman2/quotes/209183774/composite MMSI -2.54% rose 15.4% to $17.82. The Medical device maker posted net income of $6.7 million, or 23 cents a share, vs. $5.5 million or 19 cents a year earlier. The company forecast full-year revenue of $341-$350 million for 2011 and non-GAAP earnings per share of $1-$1.04.
Among laggards, SEACOR Holdings Inc. fell 14.9% to $95.65. Late Thursday the offshore drilling equipment and services provider reported diluted earnings per common share of $1.27 for the fourth quarter vs. $1.04 a year earlier. It said its results were hurt by the soft market for offshore equipment in the Gulf of Mexico following the Deepwater Horizon spill.
Shares of Snyders-Lance Inc. fell 9.9% to $18.31. The company said in a statement that it won’t be providing revenue or earnings guidance for 2011 because “with escalating commodity prices, we are faced with significant cost increases that will require pricing actions beyond those already in place.”
And Lawson Products Inc. fell 8.5% to $24.35.
In the broader markets, the S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX -0.81% edged up 0.19% to 1343.01.