Health Stocks in Motion

Barrier Therapeutics rises after a study on its diaper-rash cream.
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Updated from 2:29 p.m. EDT

Shares of

Lifecore Biomedical

(LCBM)

were among the best-performing health and pharmaceutical stocks Wednesday after the company posted better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings and sales, and said that 2005 earnings would be better than expected.

Excluding items, the medical-device maker posted fourth-quarter earnings of 9 cents a share on sales of $13 million. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call had expected earnings of 6 cents a share on sales of $11.9 million.

Looking ahead, the company forecast full-year 2005 earnings of 38 cents to 44 cents a share on sales of $51.7 million to $52.6 million. An analyst following the company expected earnings of 27 cents a share on sales of $52.1 million. Shares of Lifecore Biomedical traded up 81 cents, or 15.2%, to $6.15.

Barrier Therapeutics

(BTRX)

rose after the company said that its cream to treat diaper rash was significantly more effective than the medication that is generally recognized as the standard of care for uncomplicated diaper dermatitis. Barrier said it plans to seek Food and Drug Administration approval for the cream some time before the end of the year. Shares of Barrier Therapeutics traded up 42 cents, or 4.8%, to $9.16.

Shares of

NitroMed

(NTMD)

traded actively after the company posted better-than-expected second-quarter financial results, and said that it plans to ramp up its sales force in anticipation of gaining FDA approval for its heart drug, BiDil. The biotech posted a second-quarter loss of 18 cents a share on sales of $2.3 million. Analysts expected it to report a loss of 19 cents a share on sales of $2.25 million.

The company also announced that it entered into a letter of intent with Publicis Selling Solutions of New Jersey to establish a sales force of about 200. The company hopes to have the sales employees on board during the first quarter of 2005 and ready to sell BiDil as soon as the FDA approves it for marketing. Shares of NitroMed traded up 2 cents, or 0.1%, to $16.77.

Somanetics

(SMTS) - Get Report

rose after the company said a study showed that its cerebral oximeter reduces early postoperative decline in cognitive function and reduces the time elderly patients spend in the hospital. The study involved 122 patients at five centers in Italy using the company's INVOS cerebral oximeter system. The trial's lead investigator said that about one in five patients experienced inadequate brain oxygenation after undergoing major abdominal surgery. Somanetics now plans to conduct a similar clinical study in the U.S. Shares of Somanetics traded up 59 cents, or 5.9%, to $10.65.

Other health care volume movers included

Pfizer

(PFE) - Get Report

, up 46 cents to $31.77;

Elan

(ELN)

, up $1.99 to $20.49;

Schering-Plough

(SGP)

, up 19 cents to $18.20;

Teva Pharmaceutical

(TEVA) - Get Report

, down $1.11 to $26.99; and

Amgen

(AMGN) - Get Report

, up $1.30 to $55.20.