Health Stocks in Motion

UICI rises on buyout.
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Shares of

UICI

(UCI) - Get Report

were among the best-performing health-related stocks Thursday, rising 16% after the health and life insurance company agreed to be acquired by a consortium of private equity firms led by the Blackstone Group.

The group of private equity firms, which includes Goldman Sachs Capital Partners and DLJ Merchant Banking Partners, will pay UICI shareholders $37 a share in cash, which represents a 19% premium to Wednesday's closing price of $31.08. "The board and management were impressed with the premier reputations of Blackstone, Goldman Sachs and DLJ Merchant Banking and their expertise in the health care and insurance sectors. We are excited about the future of UICI under their ownership," UICI said in a statement. The acquisition is expected to close during the first quarter of 2006. Shares were trading up $5.03 to $36.11.

Staar Surgical

(STAA) - Get Report

rose 6% after the maker of ophthalmic products said that it doesn't believe that Food and Drug Administration enforcement will be necessary as it pertains to the inspection of its Monrovia, Calif., facility. At the conclusion of the inspection, the FDA issued three inspectional observations. The FDA has already annotated one of the observations as "corrected and verified." The company has promised to correct the remaining two issues. "The company believes the outcome of the inspection reflects the company's efforts to enhance its compliance systems over the past 20 months and the FDA's evaluation of that work," the company said in a

Securities and Exchange Commission

filing. Shares were trading up 35 cents to $5.93.

Shares of

Spectrum Pharmaceuticals

(SPPI) - Get Report

rose 2% after the company said it plans to sell 8 million shares of stock at $5.25 apiece. The price represents a slight premium to Wednesday's closing price of $5.20 a share. The company plans to use the $42 million in proceeds for general corporate purposes. Buyers of the stock will also receive 6-year warrants to purchase up to about 4 million shares of stock at a price of $6.62 a share. Rodman and Renshaw acted as exclusive placement agent for the offering. Shares were trading up 8 cents to $5.28.

FoxHollow Technologies

rose 2% after the company signed a drug development and research agreement with

Merck

(MRK) - Get Report

. The agreement also includes research collaboration for up to three years. As part of the deal, FoxHollow will provide Merck with exclusive access to atherosclerotic plaque samples from patients who have cardiovascular disease and who have been treated with FoxHollow's SilverHawk Plaque Excision System. Merck will be responsible for analyzing the plaque samples, which will include identifying and profiling compounds. Under the terms of the deal, Merck will pay $9 million to FoxHollow, which will cover the first year of the collaboration. If Merck continues with the collaboration beyond year one, it would pay FoxHollow up to $31 million during the following two years. FoxHollow would also be eligible to receive milestone and royalty payments, which are tied to achieving program objectives. Shares of FoxHollow were recently trading up $1.07 to $47.90.

Other health care volume movers included

Pfizer

(PFE) - Get Report

, down 20 cents to $25.83;

Amgen

(AMGN) - Get Report

, up $1.44 to $83.81;

Nexmed

(NEXM)

, down 16 cents to $2.08;

ViroPharma

(VPHM)

, up $1.74 to $18.12; Merck, unchanged at $28.70;

Celgene

(CELG) - Get Report

, up $1.88 to $56.65;

Johnson & Johnson

(JNJ) - Get Report

, up 2 cents to $64.32;

Bristol-Myers Squibb

(BMY) - Get Report

, down 9 cents to $24.65;

Schering-Plough

(SGP)

, down 13 cents to $21.22;

UnitedHealth Group

(UNH) - Get Report

, up 80 cents to $53.75; and

Genentech

(DNA)

, up 73 cents to $90.36.