Health Stocks in Motion

Alpharma takes off on earnings.
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Shares of

Alpharma

(ALO) - Get Report

were among the best-performing health-related stocks Tuesday, rising 44% after the company posted second-quarter results that were well above Wall Street expectations.

The specialty pharmaceutical company earned $20 million, or 38 cents a share, on sales of $367.9 million. Excluding items, the company would have earned 39 cents a share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call were expecting earnings of 9 cents a share on sales of $340.3 million. A year ago the company reported earnings of $594,000, or 1 cent a share, on sales of $316 million. Excluding items, the company would have earned 17 cents a share a year ago. Shares were trading up $6.09 to $19.86.

Gen-Probe

(GPRO) - Get Report

rose 10% after the maker of medical tests posted second-quarter results that topped expectations and raised its full-year outlook. The company earned $13.5 million, or 26 cents a share, on sales of $72.9 million. Analysts were expecting earnings of 24 cents a share on sales of $67.5 million. A year ago, the company earned $11.8 million, or 23 cents a share, on sales of $61.3 million. Looking ahead, Gen-Probe now expects 2005 earnings of $1.20 to $1.24 a share, up from previous guidance of $1.17 to $1.22 a share, on sales of $292 million to $300 million, up from earlier guidance of $287 million to $295 million. Analysts had been expecting earnings of $1.20 a share on sales of $292.5 million. Shares were trading up $4.45 to $48.65.

Shares of

Herbalife

(HLF) - Get Report

rose 20% after the provider of weight-management products and nutritional supplements posted second-quarter results that were well above forecasts. The company earned $22.8 million, or 32 cents a share, on sales of $384.7 million. Excluding a non-cash tax charge of $5.5 million, the company would have earned $28.3 million. Analysts were expecting earnings of 27 cents a share on sales of $357.5 million. A year ago the company earned $12.1 million, or 22 cents a share, on sales of $324.2 million. Looking ahead, Herbalife forecast third-quarter earnings of 31 cents to 33 cents a share. Analysts had been expecting earnings of 33 cents a share. Shares were trading up $4.62 to $28.02.

Nastech Pharmaceutical

(NSTK)

fell 7% after the company posted a second-quarter loss that matched expectations. The company reported a loss of $8.3 million, or 47 cents a share, on sales of $1.6 million. Analysts were expecting a loss of 47 cents a share on sales of $1.3 million. A year ago the company reported a loss of $7.5 million, or 62 cents a share, on sales of $45,000. At the end of the second quarter, Nastech had cash and cash equivalents of $52 million.

Separately, Nastech Pharmaceutical said that it would sell 1.5 million shares of stock. The stock is being offered as part of an effective shelf registration filed with the

Securities and Exchange Commission

. Needham & Company is acting as lead book-running manager for the sale. Shares were recently trading down $1.21 to $13.57.

Shares of

Amedisys

(AMED) - Get Report

rose 8% after the company posted second-quarter earnings that were better than expected. The home health nursing company earned $7.9 million, or 50 cents a share, on sales of $80.1 million. Analysts were expecting earnings of 44 cents a share on sales of $73.8 million. A year ago the company earned $5 million, or 39 cents a share, on sales of $56.9 million. Looking ahead, Amedisys now expects fiscal 2005 earnings of $1.95 to $2.01 a share on sales of $370 million. Previously, the company said that it would earn $1.75 to $1.81 a share on sales that would exceed $300 million. Analysts had been expecting earnings of $1.88 a share on sales of $337 million. Shares were trading up $3.10 to $42.94.

Other health care volume movers included

Pfizer

(PFE) - Get Report

, up 10 cents to $26.74;

Myogen

(MYOG)

, up $2.83 to $13.97;

Teva Pharmaceutical

(TEVA) - Get Report

, down 2 cents to $32.19;

Amgen

(AMGN) - Get Report

, up 77 cents to $82.40;

Amylin Pharmaceuticals

(AMLN)

, up $1.14 to $21.50;

Merck

(MRK) - Get Report

, down 26 cents to $30.42;

Sirna Therapeutics

(RNAI)

, up 73 cents to $5.05;

Elan

(ELN)

, up 12 cents to $8.02; and

Johnson & Johnson

(JNJ) - Get Report

, down 11 cents to $64.39.