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Monday's Health Winners & Losers

On Monday, earnings and a variety of news related to drug-eluting stents weren't enough to dislodge flat health indices.

Excluding items, Merck (MRK) earned 75 cents a share in the latest quarter, beating the consensus of 69 cents a share. Net income, including items, rose to $1.53 billion in the third quarter from $940.6 million in the same period a year ago.

Merck lifted its 2007 profit outlook, saying it should earn $3.08 to $3.14 a share, before items are counted. Analysts are looking for $3.07, according to Thomson Financial. Shares rose $1.37, or 2.6%, to $54.49.

On the other hand, Schering-Plough (SGP) earned 28 cents a share (excluding acquisition-related items and an upfront R&D payment), on revenue of $2.8 million. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were expecting 30 cents a share on revenue of $2.87 million. Shares fell $4.25, or 13%, to $28.44.

Merck and Schering-Plough are both components of the Amex pharmaceutical index, which was down 2.48, or 0.7%, to 341.24.

Away from earnings, stents -- the mesh tubes sometimes frosted with antibiotic coating used to prop open clogged arteries -- have seen a decline in sales, but not in clinical trials or news.

First Medtronic (MDT) received the CE mark for the commercial sale of the Endeavor Resolute Drug-Eluting Coronary Stent in Europe and plans to launch the product outside the U.S. earlier than originally projected.

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