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Today's Health Winners and Losers

Charles River Laboratories (CRL) shares moved higher after the company posted better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings and in-line guidance for 2006. The company, which provides services for pharmaceutical companies, earned $50.4 million, or 69 cents a share, compared with $20.1 million, or 32 cents a share, a year earlier. Excluding items, earnings were 59 cents a share, topping Wall Street's projection by 2 cents. Revenue rose 22% to $291.2 million, surpassing analysts' target of $282.8 million.

Charles River expects 2006 earnings of $2.46 to $2.52 a share, excluding stock options expenses and one-time items. The forecast brackets analysts' mean estimate of $2.48 a share. The company's shares recently changed hands at $48.22, up $3.37, or 7.5%.

Conmed (CNMD) dropped 12% after the medical equipment supplier posted fourth-quarter results that missed forecasts and warned that first-quarter results also would be weaker than expected. The company earned $2.8 million, or 10 cents a share, on sales of $153.2 million. Excluding items, Conmed earned $5.3 million, or 18 cents a share. Analysts expected earnings of 27 cents a share and sales of $160.5 million. Results were hurt by lower-than-expected surgical procedures, foreign currency translation, and extended capital equipment purchasing decision timelines in certain markets, the company said. During the year-earlier quarter, Conmed posted adjusted earnings of $14.7 million, or 49 cents a share, on sales of $161.2 million.

For the first quarter, Conmed projects earnings of 18 cents to 22 cents a share, below analysts' prediction of 38 cents. The company forecast sales of $153 million to $158 million, compared with Wall Street's target of $162.5 million. Shares were down $2.87 to $20.79.

Shares of Chattem (CHTT) tumbled 12% after the seller of health products posted fourth-quarter earnings that were a penny short of forecasts. The company earned $2.4 million, or 12 cents a share. Excluding items, the company earned $8.6 million, or 43 cents a share. Analysts expected earnings of 44 cents a share. Sales totaled $63.9 million, just shy of analysts' projection of $63.7 million. During the year-earlier period, the company posted adjusted earnings of $7.2 million, or 35 cents a share, on sales of $60.7 million.

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