Shares of Vical ( VICL) were among the best-performing health-related stocks Tuesday, rising 16% after the biotechnology company said a National Institutes of Health HIV vaccine moved into a phase II trial. The vaccine was developed by scientists at the Dale and Betty Bumpers Vaccine Research Center of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, and was manufactured by Vical. "VRC's progress in advancing to a phase II trial with the prime-boost vaccine configuration is an important milestone for our technology," Vical said. The new phase II trial, which incorporates parts of four HIV genes, is being performed by the HIV Vaccine Trials Network. Shares were trading up 86 cents to $6.23. Genentech ( DNA) rose 4% after the company posted third-quarter results that topped forecasts. The biotechnology company reported earnings of $359.4 million, or 33 cents a share, on sales of $1.75 billion. Excluding items, the company would have earned $383.8 million, or 35 cents a share. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were expecting earnings of 30 cents a share on sales of $1.63 billion. A year ago the company posted pro forma earnings of $259.6 million, or 24 cents a share, on sales of $1.2 billion. Looking ahead, Genentech now expects 2005 pro forma earnings growth of about 50%. Previously, the company said that it would grow its earnings by about 35%. Analysts are expecting 2005 earnings of $1.20 a share, or year-over-year earnings growth of 45%. Shares were trading up $3.02 to $85.02. Shares of Dynavax ( DVAX) traded actively after the company priced a 5-million-share stock offering at $6.25 apiece. About a week ago the company said that it would sell just 4 million shares. Bear Stearns led the underwriting syndicate. The company expects gross proceeds of about $31 million from the offering. Shares were recently trading down 18 cents to $6.32.
Pediatric Services of America ( PSAI) rose 13% after the company agreed to sell its pharmacy business to Accredo Health, a subsidiary of Medco Health ( MHS), for about $72 million in cash. "The divestiture of our pharmacy business streamlines our company and allows us to more effectively leverage our core competency, pediatric private duty nursing," Pediatric Services said. The company plans to use some of the proceeds from the sale to retire $20.35 million in 10% senior subordinated notes due 2008. Shares were trading up $1.84 to $15.85. Shares of EP MedSystems ( EPMD) fell 2% after the company fired its chief executive. The company, which develops cardiac electrophysiology products, said that Reinhard Schmidt was fired after its audit committee found that statements Schmidt made in connection with an ongoing investigation of sales made by the company to Iran were "inaccurate or incomplete," the company said. The company is currently being investigated by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Attorney's office for the District of New Jersey for certain sales that the company made to Iran in violation of U.S. law and for statements filed with the Department of Commerce in response to the investigation. While Schmidt made inaccurate or incomplete statements, EP MedSystems pointed out that Schmidt's firing "was not the result of the discovery of any financial or accounting irregularities by the audit committee's investigation." Meanwhile, the audit committee's investigation remains ongoing. Shares were trading down 5 cents to $2.38. Other health care volume movers included Pfizer ( PFE), down 25 cents to $24.20; BioCryst Pharmaceuticals ( BCRX), up $2.08 to $15.06; Novavax ( NVAX), up 13 cents to $2.63; Amgen ( AMGN), up 10 cents to $76.80; Merck ( MRK), down 1 cent to $26.89; Schering-Plough ( SGP), down 26 cents to $20.04; Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ), up 3 cents to $61.50; Bristol-Myers Squibb ( BMY), down 16 cents to $22.64; and Human Genome Sciences ( HGSI), down 35 cents to $8.33.