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Biogen Idec

(BIIB) - Get Biogen Inc. Report

bolted higher after it reported higher-than-expected quarterly revenue thanks to strong sales of its drugs Avonex and Rituxan.

The company earned $156.6 million, or 45 cents a share, in the third quarter. Last year, Biogen had a profit of $27.2 million, or 8 cents a share. Excluding merger and acquisition charges, as well as costs of 3 cents a share for expensing stock options, Biogen earned 60 cents a share.

Revenue reached $703 million, up 18% from the year-ago period. Analysts were expecting a top line of $681.3 million. Results were driven by sales of its multiple sclerosis drug Avonex, which were up 19% to $445 million, and revenue from the company's joint venture with


( DNA) for Rituxan, whose sales advanced 12% to $204 million.

Biogen Idec CEO James Mullen also said that returning the MS drug Tysabri to the market "was a remarkable achievement, and we expect this will enhance our neurology franchise and begin to accelerate top-line growth over the coming quarters."

The company sells Tysabri with Ireland's




Tysabri was pulled last year after the drug was linked to two cases of a rare and sometimes deadly brain disease when it was used in combination with Avonex. After a lengthy investigation by the Food and Drug Administration and the implementation of extensive safety and monitoring procedures, the drug was reapproved in June.

Shares of Biogen surged 9.1% to $47.89.

Shares of

TheStreet Recommends

Sirna Therapeutics

( RNAI) nearly doubled a day after


(MRK) - Get Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) Report

agreed to acquire the biotechnology company in a deal worth $1.1 billion.

The purchase values each share of Sirna at $13, more than twice its $6.45 closing price Monday. The stock has a 52-week high of $8.52, but Tuesday, it was surging 96% to $12.64.

Sirna is working on developing a new class of medicines based on RNA interference technology. Therapeutics of this type selectively catalyze the destruction of the RNA transcribed from an individual gene.

One area in which RNA interference shows great promise is in cancer research, Merck said.

SciClone Pharmaceuticals


reported better-than-expected third-quarter results and boosted its revenue guidance for the year, sending its shares higher.

The company reported a loss of $1.3 million, or 3 cents a share, compared with a loss of $3.1 million, or 7 cents a share, in the third quarter a year ago. Analysts expected the company to lose 5 cents.

Revenue came in at $8.3 million for the quarter, up from $7.2 million a year ago. Wall Street was looking for revenue of around $8.1 million. Shares of SciClone were up 8.8% to $2.48.

Sales of SciClone's lead product Zadaxin advanced 18% to $8.27 million thanks to gains in China, which accounts for more than 90% of the overall revenue for the hepatitis C treatment.

"In the months ahead, we plan to expand our clinical and regulatory abilities and are intensifying our business development efforts to in-license product candidates for China," said Dr. Friedhelm Blobel, president and CEO of SciClone.

Looking ahead, the company expects to exceed its previous 2006 revenue guidance of $32 million and post a profit for the year.

Word that Standard & Poor's will add


(CELG) - Get Celgene Corporation Report

to its

S&P 500

index was lifting the biotech company's stock.

Lately, Celgene was up 6.4% to $53.04. Shares of companies added to the S&P 500 often rise because fund managers who track the index have to own the stock.

Celgene is set to replace

AmSouth Bancorp

( ASO), which is being acquired by

Regions Financial

(RF) - Get Regions Financial Corporation Report

in a deal expected to close by Nov. 6.

Regions, in turn, will supplant



in the S&P 100, Standard & Poor's said Monday.