The top after-market NASDAQ stock market gainers are: SurModics, Blue Coat Systems, Golar LNG, BJ's Restaurants, MannKind, Cathay General Bancorp, RealNetworks, Scientific Games, First Solar, and Advanced Energy Industries.

SurModics Inc. (SRDX) surged 5.77 percent to $11 in the after-market trading. The company said it is exploring strategic alternatives for its SurModics Pharmaceuticals business, including a potential sale. The board of directors has retained Piper Jaffray & Co. as its financial advisor in connection with this process.

SurModics announced the appointment of Gary Maharaj as president and chief executive officer, effective Dec. 27, replacing Philip Ankeny who has been serving as interim chief executive officer since the resignation of Bruce Barclay on June 1. Maharaj will also serve as a member of the company's board. Ankeny will continue to serve as the company's senior vice president and chief financial officer.

Blue Coat Systems Inc. (BCSI) soared 3.89 percent to $29.13 in the after-hours session. Brokerage firm UBS Securities initiated coverage of Blue Coat Systems with a 'buy' rating and a price target of $33. The brokerage estimates the company's total addressable market growing about 10 percent to 12 percent through 2012.

Adjusted for Blue Coat’s security weighted business mix, we view about 6 percent to 9 percent as a reasonable expectation assuming balanced execution. Separately, we view Blue Coat as an above average acquisition target in a consolidating tech landscape, as it would provide a potential acquirer exposure to two key markets at a reasonable valuation, in our view, said Jack Monti, an analyst at UBS Securities.

Golar LNG Ltd. (GLNG) jumped 3.70 percent to $15.41 in the after-market trading.

BJ's Restaurants, Inc. (BJRI) improved 3.11 percent to $38.14 in the after-hours session.

MannKind Corp. (MNKD) climbed 2.84 percent to $8.70 in the after-market trading.

Cathay General Bancorp (CATY) grew 2.54 percent to $15.75 in the after-hours session. Credit Suisse downgraded rating of Cathay to 'neutral' from 'outperform', while increasing its price target to $16 from $14. The brokerage also raised its 2011 EPS estimate for Cathay to $0.84 from $0.69, its 2012 estimate to $1.60 from $1.36 and its 2013 estimate to $1.65 from $1.42.

We believe CATY will need to release significant levels of reserves in Q4 of 2010 to reach the consensus of 12 cents (we are at 8 cents), implying that there is little near-term margin for error on the credit front, said M. Zaremski, an analyst at Credit Suisse.

One factor that could lift our normalized estimates a further 4 percent is whether or not CATY will need to raise equity capital in order to pay back $258 million of TARP. To this point, our analysis continues to point to a small $50 million (vs. $100 million previously) capital raise in the coming years, said Zaremski.

RealNetworks Inc. (RNWK) gained 2.51 percent to $4.09 in the after-market trading. The company said it appointed Judith Bitterli as chief marketing officer, reporting to CEO Bob Kimball. Bitterli will relocate from Austin, Texas in early 2011 to join the company's Seattle office.

Scientific Games Corp. (SGMS) increased 2.35 percent to $9.60 in the after-hours session.

First Solar, Inc. (FSLR) rose 2.21 percent to $140.07 in the after-market trading. The company said it expects full year 2011 earnings of $8.75 to $9.50 a share and sales of $3.7 billion to $3.9 billion. Analysts expect earnings of $8.60 a share on revenue of $3.63 billion.

First Solar said it plans to invest $1.0 billion to $1.1 billion of capital to nearly double production capacity by year-end 2012, to maintain existing capacity and to add infrastructure to support growth. First Solar expects to generate $1.0 billion to $1.1 billion of operating cash flow during 2011.

Advanced Energy Industries, Inc. (AEIS) moved up 2.02 percent to $12.99 in the after-hours session.