Shares of Immunicon ( IMMC) were among the worst-performing health-related stocks Monday, falling 7% after the company laid out plans to slash 25% of its workforce. The company, which makes diagnostic and life-science research products, said the job cuts are being made to "align staff levels and other expenses with its current commercialization strategy and expectations for near-term revenue growth." Most of the cuts will occur in research and development, operations and certain support function, the company said. Immunicon expects to take a third-quarter charge of up to $1 million for severance and other costs related to the staff reductions. Looking ahead, the company said that it continues to expect a 2005 cash burn of $30 million to $32 million. Immunicon expects its cost-reduction plan to mitigate its cash burn during 2006. As of July 31, 2005, the company had cash, cash equivalents and investments of $54.7 million. Shares were trading down 31 cents to $3.90. Nutrition 21 ( NXXI) rose 19% after the Food and Drug Administration approved a petition filed by the company to make a health claim about chromium picolinate and the risk of type-2 diabetes and insulin resistance. Specifically, the ruling allows the nutrition bioscience company to refer to chromium picolinate as a safe nutritional supplement that may reduce the risk of insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes. According to the FDA letter to the company, "One small study suggests that chromium picolinate may reduce the risk of insulin resistance, and therefore possibly may reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes. FDA concludes, however, that the existence of such a relationship between chromium picolinate and either insulin resistance or type-2 diabetes is highly uncertain." Nutrition 21 said the FDA declined to permit other claims proposed by the company. Shares were trading up 17 cents to $1.07.
Shares of NDCHealth ( NDC) rose 7% after the company agreed to be acquired by Per-Se Technologies ( PSTI) for about $665 million, which includes refinancing NDCHealth's outstanding debt of about $270 million. As part of the deal, Amsterdam-based Wolters Kluwer will buy NDCHealth's pharmaceutical information management business for $382 million in cash. The combined deal, after income taxes, debt refinancing and transaction costs, is worth $19.50 a share, with at least $13 paid in cash and up to $6.50 paid in Per-Se stock. The price represents a 10% premium to NDCHealth's closing price of $17.77 on Friday. The companies expect to close the transaction within three to six months. Shares of NDCHealth were trading up $1.17 to $18.94 while shares of Per-Se were trading down 47 cents, or 2%, to $19.57. Pain Therapeutics ( PTIE) fell 2% after the company filed a $150 million universal shelf registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Once the registration statement becomes effective, Pain Therapeutics may sell common stock, depository shares, warrants and debt securities. Shares were trading down 14 cents to $6. Shares of Coventry Health Care ( CVH) rose 4% after Standard & Poor's said the managed health care company would be added to the S&P 500 index at the close of trading today. Coventry will replace May Department Stores ( MAY), which is being acquired by Federated ( FD). Shares were trading up $2.87 to $78.16. Other health care volume movers included Pfizer ( PFE), up 14 cents to $25.03; Merck ( MRK), up 61 cents to $28.27; Amylin Pharmaceuticals ( AMLN), up $1.80 to $32.57; Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ), up 95 cents to $62.89; Amgen ( AMGN), up $1.14 to $79.82; Bristol-Myers Squibb ( BMY), up 21 cents to $24.18; Elan ( ELN), up 6 cents to $8.68; and Schering-Plough ( SGP), up 23 cents to $20.93.