Shares of

Wellcare Health Plans

(WCG) - Get Report

were among the best-performing health-related stocks Wednesday, rising 11% after the health insurance company's third-quarter results and fourth-quarter guidance topped forecasts.

The company earned $16.3 million, or 41 cents a share, on sales of $495.5 million for the third quarter. Earnings from core operations were $19.7 million, or 50 cents a share. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call expected core earnings of 48 cents a share on sales of $472.6 million. A year ago, the company posted earnings from core operations of $16.8 million, or 45 cents a share, on sales of $374.6 million.

Looking ahead, Wellcare sees fourth-quarter earnings from core operations of $20 million to $21 million, or 50 cents to 53 cents a share, above analysts' average estimate of 48 cents a share. The company sees sales of $495 million, which would top Wall Street's expectation of $486.7 million. Wellcare shares were trading up $3.70 to $35.51.

Shares of

Hologic

(HOLX) - Get Report

rose 9% after the digital-imaging systems company posted fourth-quarter results that beat expectations. The company earned $9.5 million, or 41 cents a share, on sales of $78.2 million. Analysts expected earnings of 36 cents a share and sales of $74.3 million. In the year-ago period, the company earned $5.2 million, or 24 cents a share, on sales of $63.9 million. During the most recent quarter, the company recognized revenue on 71 of its Selenia full-field digital mammography systems. Backlog orders stood at 185 systems. Shares were trading up $4.97 to $62.18.

Aspect Medical Systems

( ASPM) rose 9% after the maker of brain monitoring systems posted better-than-expected third-quarter results and forecast fourth-quarter earnings ahead of Wall Street projections. For the third quarter, the company's earnings jumped to $2.6 million, or 11 cents a share, from $520,000, or 2 cents a share, a year earlier. Sales rose to $19.6 million from $13.6 million. Analysts expected earnings of 7 cents a share and sales of $19.3 million.

Aspect Medical sees fourth-quarter earnings of 11 cents to 12 cents a share, with sales of $20.5 million to $21 million. Analysts are looking for earnings of 9 cents a share and sales of $21.4 million. The company's shares were trading up $2.82 to $35.30.

Beckman Coulter

( BEC) rose 8% after the maker of medical testing instruments posted third-quarter results that were above expectations. The company earned $36.2 million, or 56 cents a share, on sales of $593.4 million. Excluding one-time items, the company would have earned $48.1 million, or 74 cents a share. Analysts expected earnings of 57 cents a share and sales of $577.4 million. In the year-ago period, the company earned $57.2 million, or 87 cents a share, on sales of $581.2 million.

Beckman Coulter sees fourth-quarter earnings of 66 cents to 76 cents a share, which includes acquisitions but excludes restructuring and other one-time items. Beckman expects sales of $657 million to $672 million. Analysts expect earnings of 78 cents a share on sales of $672.7 million. For all of 2005, the company sees earnings of $2.95 to $3.05 a share and sales of $2.45 billion to $2.46 billion. For 2006, the company forecast earnings of $2.90 to $3.10 a share on sales of $2.53 billion to $2.6 billion. Analysts are looking for 2006 earnings of $3.04 a share on sales of $2.55 billion. Shares were trading up $4.08 to $53.58.

Shares of

Durect

(DRRX) - Get Report

slid 15% after the drug maker said it would sell 7.4 million shares for $5 apiece. The price represents a 16% discount to Tuesday's closing price of $5.95. The company said that it would use proceeds from the sale to fund general corporate purposes, including clinical trials, research and development activities, and working capital needs. The company expects to complete the sale on or about Nov. 7. Shares recently were trading down 89 cents to $5.06.

Other health care volume movers included

Pfizer

(PFE) - Get Report

, up 8 cents to $21.63;

Guidant

( GDT), down $2.75 to $60.35;

Novavax

(NVAX) - Get Report

, down 27 cents to $4.28;

Johnson & Johnson

(JNJ) - Get Report

, down 40 cents to $61.50;

Nabi Biopharmaceuticals

(NABI)

, down 3 cents to $3.60;

Merck

(MRK) - Get Report

, down 42 cents to $28.10;

Amgen

(AMGN) - Get Report

, down 71 cents to $74.58;

Schering-Plough

( SGP), up 6 cents to $19.76;

Medco

(MHS)

, down $3.01 to $46.79; and

Genentech

( DNA), up 94 cents to $91.99.