Health Stocks in Motion

Updated from 2:50 p.m. EDT

Shares of Vernalis ( VNLS) were easily among the best-performing health care stocks Wednesday, after the U.K.-based company announced a licensing agreement with Endo Pharmaceuticals ( ENPD).

Vernalis will license its Frova migraine drug to Endo Pharmaceuticals in exchange for an up-front fee of $30 million, anniversary payments for the first two years of $15 million each year and a $40 million milestone payment contingent upon Frova winning Food and Drug Administration approval for menstruation-associated migraine. The milestone payments increase as specific sales targets are reached. In all, milestone payments could total as much as $255 million. Shares of Vernalis traded up $2.39, or 136.6%, to $4.14.

Neurocrine Biosciences ( NBIX) rose after the company said it would submit new drug applications for its insomnia treatment to the FDA early in the fourth quarter. One application will be submitted for an immediate-release formulation of the drug and one for a modified release version. The company said that based on all completed clinical studies there are no safety issues that would deter it from filing the applications with the FDA. Shares of Neurocrine Biosciences traded up $3.69, or 7.7%, to $51.69.

Shares of Bruker Biosciences ( BRKR) fell after the company reduced its earnings and sales outlook for the second quarter. It now expects to report a loss of 3 cents to 5 cents a share vs. previous guidance of break-even to 2 cents a share. It also said that sales would now be in the range of $63 million to $65 million vs. previous guidance of between $70 million and $74 million. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call had expected it to earn 1 cent a share on sales of $71.6 million. Bruker said a longer sales cycle led to the second-quarter shortfall. Shares of Bruker Biosciences traded down 55 cents, or 11.6%, to $4.20.

Avant Immunotherapeutics ( AVAN) rose after the company announced that its Rotarix vaccine was approved by Mexican health officials. The drug was developed in partnership with GlaxoSmithKline ( GSK) and is used to prevent gastroenteritis caused by rotavirus infection. Rotavirus infection is the leading cause of severe diarrhea and vomiting in infants and children between the ages of 3 and 24 months. Worldwide, rotaviruses account for about 138 million cases of infantile gastroenteritis each year, resulting in about 440,000 deaths a year. Shares of Avant Immunotherapeutics traded up 28 cents, or 11.9%, to $2.63.

Shares of PPD ( PPDI) rose after the company reported better-than-expected second-quarter earnings and sales. It earned 41 cents a share on sales of $200.5 million. Analysts had expected it to earn 39 cents a share on sales of $185.4 million. Shares of PPD traded up $5.69, or 19.2%, to $35.34.

Other health care volume movers included Pfizer ( PFE), down $1.43 to $32.58; Amgen ( AMGN), up 50 cents to $56; Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ), down 57 cents to $55.35; Schering-Plough ( SGP), down 26 cents to $18.32; and Genentech ( DNA), down 47 cents to $52.23.

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