Last Wednesday, cemetery operator StoneMor Partners (NASDAQ:STON) floated 3.7 million of its common units (the "partnership" equivalent of a corporation's common stock) at $20.50 (topping out the $18.50 to $20.50 a share estimated by underwriters Lehman Brothers (NYSE:LEH) and Merrill Lynch (NYSE:MER)). In one day, the graveyard manager had dug up $75 million out of the public markets.

The units began trading at $22.40, and well, let me just say that Wall Street's traders are not the wimps you might think they are. They flipped those StoneMor units around like they were flapjacks, as volume on the Nasdaq quickly reached half the number of units floated -- nearly 1.9 million units traded hands! (Apparently, that's not uncommon. A little digging through Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) numbers reveals that that IPO actually saw more total shares traded than were floated -- 19.6 million shares offered and 22.4 million traded.)

Unfortunately for the early buyers of StoneMor units, the trading trended sharply downward as the units began to drop like, well, a stone (I just take the puns they give me) to close out the first day of trading at $21.60. Buried further on Thursday, they began to rise from the dead on Friday.

Inquiring investors want to know: Why all the fuss over a cemetery operator? Foolish Hidden Gems subscribers can answer that. Since StoneMor competitor and No. 2 U.S. cemetery operator Alderwoods Group (NASDAQ:AWGI) was first recommended by our newsletter in October 2003, its shares have appreciated 46% against a 12% rise in the S&P 500. The morbidly named death-care industry is big business and has a guaranteed universal target audience. While there are still people who steadfastly refuse to buy a personal computer or shop online, who will never give Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) or Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) a dime, one thing is certain: Sooner or later (don't worry, dear Fool. I'm sure you'll be later -- as will I), every living soul in the U.S. is going to become a customer of StoneMor, Alderwoods, or competitors Carriage Services, Stewart Enterprises, and Service Corporation International.

There's not a whole lot of industries that have that kind of guaranteed patronage built into their business model. StoneMor is one of them. Investors with a long-term view saw this, and on Wednesday, they took advantage of the chance to stake their claims.

Ever wary of vampires, Hidden Gems does most of its digging for high-quality, low-visibility small caps as far from graveyards as possible. Grab a shovel and come join us for a free trial excavation by clicking right here.

Fool contributor Rich Smith owns shares in Alderwoods, but in no other company mentioned in this article.