Shares of ICU Medical ( ICUI) were among the best-performing health-related stocks Wednesday, rising 18% after the medical device maker posted third-quarter earnings that blew past Wall Street expectations.

The company earned $5.8 million, or 38 cents a share, on sales of $46.5 million. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call expected earnings of 19 cents a share. A year ago, the company reported a loss of $1 million, or 8 cents a share, on sales of $16.5 million. ICU said it increased sales in all of its product lines and distribution channels during the most recent period. Shares recently traded up $4.92 to $32.62.

IMS Health ( RX) fell 1% after the company posted mixed third-quarter results. The company, which is in the process of being acquired by Dutch company VNU, earned $71.1 million, or 30 cents a share, on sales of $432.8 million. Excluding items, the company would have earned $80.6 million, or 34 cents a share. Analysts anticipated earnings of 33 cents a share, before items, and sales of $435.3 million. A year ago, IMS posted adjusted earnings of $70.7 million, or 30 cents a share, on sales of $384.2 million. Shares were down 30 cents to $24.22.

Shares of Medicines Co. ( MDCO) rose 4% after the drug developer posted a narrower-than-expected third-quarter loss. The company reported a loss of $6.2 million, or 13 cents a share, on sales of $31.9 million. Analysts projected a loss of 19 cents a share and sales of $29.8 million. A year ago, the company reported a profit of $5.3 million, or 11 cents a share, on sales of $37.7 million.

In early October, Medicines' shares were hammered after the company lowered its 2005 earnings and sales forecast and warned that third-quarter results would be worse than expectations at the time. The company predicted that it would post a loss of $10 million on sales of $30 million. At the time, analysts had been expecting the company to report a loss of 8 cents a share on sales of $45.2 million. Shares recently rose 65 cents to $16.74.

Stryker ( SYK) fell 9% after the maker of orthopedic devices posted third-quarter results that came in short of expectations. The company reported earnings of $132.1 million, or 32 cents a share, on sales of $1.17 billion. Excluding items, the company would have earned $163.4 million, or 40 cents a share. Analysts were expecting adjusted earnings of 41 cents a share and sales of $1.19 billion. A year ago, the company posted adjusted earnings of $135.2 million, or 33 cents a share, on sales of $1.03 billion. Shares were down $4.11 to $42.39.

Shares of Usana Health Sciences ( USNA) dropped 12% after the company posted mixed third-quarter results and warned that fourth-quarter sales would be slightly below expectations. The company reported third-quarter earnings of $10 million, or 51 cents a share, on sales of $82.2 million. A lower-than-expected tax rate of 34% added 2 cents to the bottom line. In July, the company said it would post third-quarter earnings of 47 cents to 49 cents a share -- assuming a 35% tax rate -- on sales of $82 million to $84 million. Analysts had forecast earnings of 48 cents a share and sales of $83.2 million. A year earlier, the company earned $8 million, or 39 cents a share, on sales of $68.7 million.

For the fourth quarter, Usana forecast earnings of 50 cents to 52 cents a share, in line with expectations. The company sees sales of $86 million to $88 million, just below the $88.2 million that analysts had been expecting. Shares were down $5.75 to $42.07.

Other health care volume movers included Pfizer ( PFE), down 43 cents to $23.70; Novavax ( NVAX), up 47 cents to $3.40; Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ), up $1.05 to $64.02; Gilead Sciences ( GILD), down $2.43 to $45.80; BioCryst Pharmaceuticals ( BCRX), down 74 to $15.85; Amgen ( AMGN), up 85 cents to $76.72; Guidant ( GDT), up 45 cents to $64.55; Merck ( MRK), down 17 cents to $26.88; Bristol-Myers Squibb ( BMY), down 23 cents to $21.99; and Schering-Plough ( SGP), down 9 cents to $21.29.

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