Today's Health Winners and Losers

Dade Behring is slammed by lower-than-expected sales.
Author:
Publish date:

Shares of

Dade Behring

(DADE)

were among the worst-performing health-related stocks Wednesday, falling 8% after the clinical diagnostics company posted flat fourth-quarter sales that were well below expectations.

The company earned $34.3 million, or 38 cents a share, in the fourth quarter, beating Thomson First Call's average analyst estimate of 36 cents. Revenue, however, was $420.8 million, shy of analysts' target of $440.2 million. The company said revenue was hurt by a lower level of instruments placed under sales-type leases. During the year-earlier period, the company earned $24 million, or 26 cents a share, on sales of $420 million.

Separately, Dade Behring said it plans to expand its stock buyback plan. The company has been authorized to buy an additional 5 million shares. The company also raised its quarterly dividend to 5 cents a share from 3 cents. Shareholders of record on March 1 will receive the dividend on March 20. Dade Behring shares were trading down $3.01 to $36.02.

DaVita

(DVA) - Get Report

rose 8% after the company posted mixed fourth-quarter results and lifted its operating income forecast for 2006. The dialysis-center operator earned $64.1 million, or 61 cents a share, in the fourth quarter. Earnings from continuing operations, meanwhile, came in at $56.4 million, or 54 cents a share, while sales totaled $1.13 billion. Analysts expected earnings from continuing operations of 55 cents a share and sales of $1.11 billion. A year earlier, the company posted earnings from continuing operations of $52.3 million, or 51 cents a share, on sales of $583.9 million.

Looking ahead, DaVita now sees 2006 operating income of $630 million to $700 million, up from an earlier view of $600 million to $670 million. The guidance excludes stock-based compensation costs. Shares were trading up $4.23 to $59.56.

Shares of

Endo Pharmaceuticals

(ENDP) - Get Report

rose 2% after the drugmaker reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter results and backed its 2006 guidance. The company earned $72.9 million, or 54 cents a share, on sales of $240.8 million. Excluding items, the company recorded adjusted earnings of $77.8 million, or 58 cents a share. Analysts projected earnings of 53 cents a share and sales of $234.2 million. During the year-earlier period, the company earned $29.2 million, or 22 cents a share, on sales of $157.3 million. On an adjusted basis, the company earned $31.5 million, or 24 cents a share, a year earlier.

Endo continues to see adjusted 2006 earnings of $1.75 to $1.80 a share, with sales of $860 million to $880 million. Analysts project earnings of $1.75 a share and sales of $881.1 million. The company said it expects earnings related to generic OxyContin to contribute 20 cents to 24 cents a share, with sales of $50 million to $60 million. However, Endo noted that a patent infringement lawsuit brought by

Purdue Pharma

could force the company to discontinue sales of its generic version of Purdue's OxyContin painkiller. Endo shares were up 68 cents to $29.29.

ArthroCare

(ARTC)

rose 6% after the medical equipment company's fourth-quarter results beat Wall Street expectations. The company earned $8.4 million, or 31 cents a share, on sales of $59.3 million. Analysts expected earnings of 30 cents a share on sales of $58.1 million. During the year-earlier quarter, ArthroCare recorded a loss of $34.5 million, or $1.52 a share, on sales of $42.7 million. Excluding items, the company earned $4.7 million, or 20 cents a share, in the year-earlier period.

For 2006, ArthroCare projects earnings, excluding stock-based compensation costs, of $1.25 to $1.35 a share. Analysts predict earnings of $1.28 a share. The company forecast 2006 sales of $255 million to $265 million, bracketing analysts' average estimate of $262.2 million. ArthroCare shares recently changed hands at $46.62, up $2.58.

Genta

(GNTA)

shares rose 8% after the company reported positive results from a late-stage trial of its protein inhibitor Genasense. In a phase III trial involving patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, a combination of chemotherapy and Genasense showed an increased proportion of patients who achieved a complete or nodular partial remission. Genta shares were up 22 cents to $2.81.

Shares of

Cephalon

(CEPH)

rose 2% after the drugmaker posted mixed fourth-quarter results and increased its 2006 sales forecast. The company earned $18.1 million, or 30 cents a share, on sales of $336.4 million. Excluding items, the company earned $42.7 million, or 71 cents a share. Analysts expected earnings of 74 cents a share and sales of $330.1 million. During the year-earlier quarter, the company earned $78.1 million, or $1.23 a share, on sales of $299 million. On an adjusted basis, the company earned $51.1 million, or 82 cents a share, during the year-ago period.

Looking ahead, Cephalon projects first-quarter sales of $355 million to $365 million. For all of 2006, it now predicts sales of $1.55 billion to $1.6 billion, up from an earlier forecast of $1.35 billion to $1.4 billion. Analysts project sales of $347.3 million for the first quarter and $1.51 billion for the full year. Shares were up $1.68 to $73.43.

Other health care volume movers included

Amgen

(AMGN) - Get Report

, up 77 cents to $72.70;

Pfizer

(PFE) - Get Report

, down 14 cents to $25.36;

Boston Scientific

(BSX) - Get Report

, up 41 cents to $22.44;

Elan

(ELN)

, up 87 cents to $14.97;

Merck

(MRK) - Get Report

, up 50 cents to $35.17;

Bristol-Myers Squibb

(BMY) - Get Report

, up 23 cents to $23.14;

Schering-Plough

(SGP)

, up 6 cents to $18.65; and

Johnson & Johnson

(JNJ) - Get Report

, down 13 cents to $58.92.