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Today's Health Winners and Losers

Shares of NitroMed (NTMD) were among the worst-performing health-related stocks Tuesday, plunging 32% after the drugmaker posted disappointing first-quarter results.

The company reported a loss of $25.9 million, or 75 cents a share, on revenue of $2.3 million. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call expected a smaller loss of 68 cents a share on revenue of $5 million. A year earlier, the company reported a loss of $19.6 million, or 65 cents a share, on revenue of $398,000.

Looking ahead, NitroMed sees 2006 product sales of about $20 million. Analysts project sales of $44.4 million. Shares were trading down $2.75 to $5.86.

Vical (VICL) soared 31% after the company reported a better-than-expected first quarter and gave positive early-stage study results of a bird flu vaccine. For the first quarter, the drug developer reported a loss of $4.5 million, or 16 cents a share, on revenue of $5.6 million. Analysts expected a wider loss of 22 cents a share, with revenue of $3.7 million. Last year, the company posted a first-quarter loss of $7.6 million, or 32 cents a share, on revenue of $2.7 million. For 2006, Vical continues to forecast an adjusted loss of $22 million to $26 million.

Separately, the company said its three-component flu vaccine candidate provided 100% protection in mice and ferrets against lethal doses of the H5N1 avian flu virus. Mice and ferrets that did not receive the vaccine did not survive. "Based on the results, the company is continuing to advance toward human testing of the pandemic flu DNA vaccine candidate," Vical said. Shares recently had jumped $1.68 to $7.18.

Shares of ev3 (EVVV) slid 10% after the medical-device company posted mixed first-quarter results and lowered its 2006 sales guidance. The company posted a loss of $24.5 million, or 44 cents a share, narrowed from $28.1 million, or $10.76 a share, a year earlier, when there were far fewer shares outstanding. Excluding items, the company reported a loss of $17.1 million, or 31 cents a share, a penny better than Wall Street's projection. Revenue rose to $42.2 million from $27.7 million, but missed analysts' expectation of $43.5 million.

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