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The Health Stocks in Motion

Shares of Apria Healthcare (AHG) were among the worst-performing health-related stocks Friday, falling 16% after the company warned that full-year results would fall below expectations.

The company, which provides home respiratory therapy, home infusion therapy and home medical equipment, now expects earnings of between $1.68 and $1.72 a share on sales growth of 2% to 3%. Previously, the company said that it would earn $1.90 to $1.95 a share and post sales growth of 5% to 6%. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call had been expecting earnings of $1.90 a share on sales of $1.52 billion. Apria blamed the shortfall on a third-quarter slowdown in its durable medical equipment, respiratory medications and infusion therapy segments. Shares were trading down $4.90 to $26.66.

Natural Health Trends (BHIP) fell 25% after the company announced that its president, Mark Woodburn, and Terry LaCore, chief executive at the company's Lexxus International subsidiary, would no longer serve as officers of the company. The two were relieved of their duties because of "their failure to cooperate with an ongoing investigation conducted by the company's audit committee," the company said.

The men, both of whom resigned from their board positions, will now be employed as global managing directors, with Woodburn serving in operations and LaCore serving in business development. The company also announced the appointment of Robert Hesse as interim chief executive officer. Shares were trading down $3.95 to $11.60.

Shares of Wyeth (WYE) traded actively after the company said its third-quarter earnings would be better than Wall Street expectations. The drugmaker expects earnings in the mid- to upper-70-cent range, which is above the 72 cents a share that analysts had been expecting. A year ago, the company earned 76 cents a share.

Looking ahead, Wyeth reiterated its full-year pro forma earnings outlook of $2.80 to $2.90 a share, but said that if current business trends continue, earnings would "likely reach or even exceed the upper end of the range." Analysts had been expecting earnings of $2.92 a share. For 2006, the company expects year-over-year pro forma earnings growth that will be in the high single-digit range. Analysts are looking for 2006 earnings of $3.12 a share. Shares were trading down 33 cents to $45.74.
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