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Thursday's Health Winners & Losers

Health stocks amassed greater losses Thursday amid disappointing profit reports from several companies.

The Nasdaq biotechnology index, with 165 stock components, fell 11.6, or 1.5%, to 776.52 on Thursday. The index has been facing a swoon in the past week, down 4.7% since last Thursday's open.

Among individual stocks Thursday, earnings were in focus. 3SBio (SSRX) shares plummeted after the biotech company's fourth-quarter earnings and 2008 revenue forecast missed estimates. The company after the close Wednesday reported quarterly earnings of $2.4 million, or 11 cents per American depository share, shy of analysts' average target of 13 cents per ADS.

3SBio said it expects revenue in 2008 to range from $30 million to $32 million, while analysts had forecast a top line of $36.3 million. Shares tumbled $3.31, or 28.3%, to $8.39 on Thursday.

Quest Diagnostics (DGX) fell 5% after the testing company gave 2008 guidance below the Street view. The company said it expects to earn between $3 and $3.20 a share, while analysts forecast a profit of $3.36 a share.

For its last quarter, Quest reported a loss of $5.3 million, or 3 cents a share, reversing a year-earlier profit of $149.3 million, or 76 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter. When charges are factored out, the company's earnings of 79 cents a share beat analysts' estimates by a penny. Shares slipped $3.81, or 7.3%, to $48.35.

Also on the downside was Ligand Pharmaceuticals (LGND), which fell 13% to a 52-week low after its profit report. The drug company reported fourth-quarter net income of $5.9 million, or 6 cents a share, down from $141.4 million, or $1.61 a share, in the year-ago quarter. Shares slid 50 cents, or 12.5%, to $3.51.

Elsewhere, Psychiatric Solutions (PSYS) shares tumbled after the behavioral-health services company beat earnings estimates by a penny, but fell shy on revenue. The company recorded a fourth-quarter profit of $23.2 million, or 42 cents a share, up from $17.6 million, or 33 cents a share, during the same period a year prior. Analysts expected a 41-cent-a-share profit. Psychiatric Solutions registered revenue of $403.4 million, while analysts were looking for $413.6 million.

For 2008, the company expects earnings $1.93 and $1.97 a share, above Wall Street's target of $1.88. For the first quarter, however, Psychiatric Solutions forecast earnings of 42 cents to 43 cents a share, a penny short of estimates. Its shares dropped $4.03, or 12.7%, at $27.65.

Heading the other direction, Icon (ICLR), which provides outsourced development services, to pharma, biotech and medical device companies, gained $7.02, or 11.2%, to $69.64, on a stronger-than-expected earnings report.

The company reported fourth-quarter net income of $15.9 million, or 53 cents a share, up from $11.4 million, or 39 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Revenue climbed 40% to $180.7 million. The results beat Thomson Financial's average analyst estimate for earnings of 50 cents a share and revenue of $172.5 million.

CryoLife (CRY) also gained after posting earnings that topped estimates. The company said fourth-quarter earnings rose to $2.6 million, or 10 cents a share, from $50,000, or a penny a share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 19% to $25.1 million. Analysts forecast earnings of 6 cents a share on revenue of $24.1 million. CryoLife's stock surged $1.06, or 11.8%, to $10.03.

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