Health Stocks in Motion

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals jumps on Novartis stake.
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Shares of

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals

(ALNY) - Get Report

were among the best-performing health-related stocks Wednesday, rising 43% after

Novartis

(NVS) - Get Report

took a 19.9% stake in the company as part of a drug development collaboration.

As part of the deal, which calls for a multiyear alliance that's focused on the discovery of therapeutics based on RNA interference, Novartis will make initial payments of about $56.8 million, consisting of upfront payments and the purchase of 4.2 million shares at $11.11 apiece. Alnylam will also be eligible to receive research and early development funding, milestone and royalty payments. The collaboration agreement consists of an initial three-year term that could be extended for two additional one-year periods. "RNAi holds great promise as a new therapeutic modality for treating many diseases. In particular, this exciting new area of biology has potential to target diseases that cannot be addressed by traditional approaches," Novartis said. Shares of Alnylam were recently trading up $4.09 to $13.65.

StemCells

(STEM)

fell modestly after the company announced the resignation of its chief financial officer. Judi Lum is leaving the company to pursue other business opportunities, the company said. Rodney Young, who most recently served as CFO and co-founder of privately held Extropy Pharmaceuticals, will replace Lum. Young's appointment is effective as of Sept. 6. Shares were trading down 2 cents to $5.41.

Shares of

Inspire Pharmaceuticals

(ISPH)

traded actively after the company said it's the target of a formal

Securities and Exchange Commission

probe. Inspire said it believes the investigation "relates to trading in the company's securities surrounding its February 9, 2005, announcement of the results of its phase III clinical trial of diquafosol tetrasodium for treatment of dry eye (Study 109), as well as the company's disclosures regarding this phase III clinical trial." Inspire said that it and one of its directors have each received a subpoena. Shares, which had fallen by as much as 4% in early trading, were recently trading up 6 cents to $9.64.

Ventiv Health

(VTIV)

rose 11% after the company announced plans to buy privately held

inChord Communications

for $185 million in cash and stock. The purchase of inChord, a health care marketing organization, will be immediately accretive to Ventiv's fourth-quarter earnings, adding 3 cents to 4 cents a share. For all of 2005, Ventiv now expects earnings of $1.25 to $1.29 a share, up from previous guidance of $1.22 to $1.25 a share, on sales of $505 million to $515 million, up from earlier guidance of $480 million to $490 million. Analysts had been expecting earnings of $1.25 a share on sales of $495.7 million.

Looking ahead, Ventiv expects 2006 earnings of $1.35 to $1.40 a share on sales of $610 million to $630 million. Earnings exclude a tax benefit of 10 cents a share. Analysts had been expecting earnings of $1.35 a share on sales of $537.9 million. The acquisition, which does not require Ventiv Health shareholder approval, is expected to close during the fourth quarter. Shares were trading up $2.48 to $24.98.

Shares of

ID Biomedical

(IDBE)

rose 14% after the company agreed to be acquired by

GlaxoSmithKline

(GSK) - Get Report

for about $1.4 billion, or $29.50 a share. The price represents a 13% premium to Tuesday's closing price $26. The acquisition is expected to close by the end of 2005 or early 2006. "GSK's proposed acquisition of ID Biomedical reflects its continuing commitment to address the public health need for increased supply of influenza vaccines," GlaxoSmithKline said. Shares of ID Biomedical were recently trading up $3.57 to $29.57.

Other health care volume movers included

Pfizer

(PFE) - Get Report

, up 30 cents to $26.17;

Wyeth

(WYE)

, up 39 cents to $46.62;

Sirna Therapeutics

(RNAI)

, up 73 cents to $4.77;

Nektar Therapeutics

(NKTR) - Get Report

, up $1.61 to $18.94;

Johnson & Johnson

(JNJ) - Get Report

, up 97 cents to $64.76;

Merck

(MRK) - Get Report

, up 7 cents to $29.06;

Amgen

(AMGN) - Get Report

, down 59 cents to $81.79;

Bristol-Myers Squibb

(BMY) - Get Report

, up 21 cents to $25.16; and

Schering-Plough

(SGP)

, up 35 cents to $22.39.