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Today's Health Winners and Losers

Shares of Amedisys (AMED) were among the worst-performing health-related stocks Thursday, tumbling 24% after the home-health nursing company posted fourth-quarter earnings that were well below forecasts and announced the resignation of its chief financial officer.

The company earned $7.3 million, or 45 cents a share, on service revenue of $118.9 million. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call expected earnings of 55 cents a share on revenue of $117.9 million. During the year-earlier period, the company earned $6.1 million, or 39 cents a share, on sales of $64.4 million. Amedisys blamed the weak fourth-quarter earnings on the "transitional cost and delayed timeline expectations for performance improvement from the recent acquisitions of Housecall and Spectracare, the as yet unrealized synergies from the reduction in Housecall's corporate office expenses and the residual impact of last summer's hurricanes."

For 2006, Amedisys continues to predict earnings of $2.33 to $2.43 a share, with sales of $510 million. Analysts project earnings of $2.42 a share on sales of $516 million.

Amedisys said CFO Gregory Browne resigned to pursue other opportunities. The company has hired a search firm to aid it in finding a successor. Browne, meanwhile, will continue to serve as CFO until a replacement is found and transitioned, the company said. Shares were trading down $9.80 to $30.80.

GTC Biotherapeutics (GTCB) shares plunged 39% after the biopharmaceutical company said an advisory committee of the European Medicines Agency plans to issue a negative opinion related to the company's application for ATryn, a recombinant form of human antithrombin. "On the basis of recent conversations, GTC understands that the CHMP, after excluding data from pregnant patients, determined that an insufficient number of surgical patients were enrolled to support approval," the company said in a statement. GTC said it plans to use the appeals process to ask the agency to re-examine the application. Shares were trading down 87 cents to $1.38. Nearly 21 million shares have changed hands, compared with an average daily volume of just 764,219 shares.

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