Shares of LCA-Vision ( LCAV) were among the best-performing health-related stocks Tuesday, rising 12% after the laser vision-correction services company posted third-quarter results that easily beat Wall Street forecasts. The company earned $7.9 million, or 37 cents a share, on sales of $47 million. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call projected earnings of 28 cents a share on sales of $44.9 million. A year earlier, LCA-Vision earned $3.6 million, or 17 cents a share, on sales of $31.2 million. Procedure volume during the most recent period climbed 47% from a year earlier to 34,187. Operating margins, meanwhile, rose to 25.6% from 17.7% last year. LCA-Vision raised its 2005 earnings forecast to $1.40 to $1.45 a share from its previous forecast of $1.25 to $1.30 a share. Analysts currently expect earnings of $1.36 a share. The company's shares were trading up $4.80 to $44.63. MedCath ( MDTH) dropped 15% after the company said its chief executive resigned after just three weeks on the job. The company, which operates heart hospitals, also offered a fourth-quarter sales preview that fell below expectations. When the company posts its full financial results in mid-November, it expects to report sales of $184 million to $186 million. Analysts had projected sales of $196.4 million. Meanwhile, Charlie Slaton, who became CEO on Oct. 1, resigned to pursue other interests, MedCath said. John Casey, who currently serves as chairman, will act as CEO until a permanent replacement is found. Before taking over the CEO position, Slaton had served as president and chief operating officer. Shares recently traded down $3.21 to $18.72. Henry Schein ( HSIC) shares fell 3% after hospital supply company posted third-quarter results that fell short of expectations. The company reported earnings from continuing operations of $36.4 million, or 41 cents a share, below analysts' expectation of 42 cents a share. Sales of $1.13 billion missed Wall Street's forecast of $1.15 billion. In the year-earlier quarter, Henry Schein earned $31.1 million, or 35 cents a share, on sales of $993.1 million.
For 2005, Henry Schein forecast earnings of $1.75 to $1.77 a share. Analysts had expected earnings of $1.85 a share. Shares recently fell $1.19 to $40.82. Sepracor ( SEPR) rose 4% after the pharmaceutical company reported a narrower-than-expected third-quarter loss on a sharp rise in sales. The company posted a loss of $2.2 million, or 2 cents a share, compared with $130.4 million, or $1.40 a share, a year earlier. Results included a one-time gain of $18.3 million, or 17 cents a share. Analysts were expecting a loss of 60 cents a share. Sales jumped to $205.7 million from $80.1 million, well above analysts' forecast of $166 million. Sepracor shares were trading up $2.44 to $56.86. Shares of Nature's Sunshine ( NATR) fell 8% after the vitamin maker posted third-quarter earnings that fell short of forecasts. The company earned $4.3 million, or 28 cents a share, missing analysts' expectation of 34 cents a share. Sales, which came in at $87.7 million, were slightly shy of Wall Street's prediction of $87.4 million. A year earlier, the company earned $4.6 million, or 29 cents a share, on sales of $84.5 million. Sales at the company's Synergy Worldwide unit declined 16% to $20.4 million, contributing to the weaker-than-expected results. Nature's Sunshine sales in the U.S. grew 10.5% to $37.3 million. Shares were down $1.73 to $18.87. Other health care volume movers included Pfizer ( PFE), up 4 cents to $21.13; Novavax ( NVAX), up 48 cents to $4.63; Amgen ( AMGN), up 31 cents to $75.62; Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ), down 63 cents to $63.47; Merck ( MRK), down 14 cents to $26.86; Bristol-Myers Squibb ( BMY), up 14 cents to $21.78; and BioCryst Pharmaceuticals ( BCRX), up 16 cents to $15.39.