Shares of Northfield Laboratories ( NFLD) were among the best-performing health-related stocks Tuesday, climbing 10% after an independent data monitoring committee recommended that the company's Phase III trial of PolyHeme continue without modification. "This is the first time a hemoglobin-based oxygen-carrying resuscitative fluid has successfully passed this patient evaluation milestone in the high-risk trauma population," the company said. Northfield is conducting the Phase III trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of PolyHeme, which is a human hemoglobin-based oxygen-carrying resuscitative fluid that's administered to patients in hemorrhagic shock following a traumatic injury. The company plans to complete enrollment early next year. Shares were trading up $1.29 to $13.74. Pro-Dex ( PDEX) plunged 22% after the maker of technology-based products used by the medical, dental and scientific research markets posted lower year-over-year earnings and cut its profit outlook. The company reported fiscal first-quarter earnings of $262,000, or 3 cents a share, on sales of $3.8 million. A year earlier, the company posted earnings of $462,000, or 5 cents share, on sales of $3.3 million. Pro-Dex attributed the earnings decline to an unfavorable shift in product mix and increased operating expenses. The company now sees fiscal 2006 earnings of 21 cents to 26 cents a share, down from its previous view of 26 cents to 30 cents a share. Pro-Dex continues to expect sales of $16 million to $18 million for the fiscal year ending next June. Shares were trading down 73 cents to $2.52. Guidant ( GDT) shares rose 9% after Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ) agreed to acquire the company for about $21.5 billion, almost $4 billion less than its original offer. Johnson & Johnson had wavered on the acquisition after Guidant was hit with a series of product recalls. The companies' new deal is valued at $63.08 a share, below Johnson & Johnson's original offer of $76 a share. Guidant shareholders will receive $33.25 a share in cash and 0.493 Johnson & Johnson shares. "The board believes that it is in the best interest of shareholders to proceed with the merger agreement at the revised terms," Guidant said. "Our enthusiasm for this merger and its potential continues. This agreement makes sense for Guidant shareholders and its employees." Shares of Guidant were trading up $4.92 to $62.67, while shares of Johnson & Johnson rose $2.83, or 5%, to $63.34.
Health Management Associates ( HMA) rose 1% after the company posted in-line fourth-quarter earnings. The hospital operator posted fourth-quarter earnings of $87.8 million, or 35 cents a share, on sales of $920.8 million. Results included one-time costs of 3 cents a share and a one-time gain of 4 cents a share. Excluding items, the company would have earned 34 cents a share. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call projected earnings of 34 cents a share and sales of $917.5 million. A year earlier, the company earned $74 million, or 30 cents a share, on sales of $789.7 million. For fiscal 2006, Health Management sees earnings of $1.56 to $1.60 a share, bracketing analysts' average estimate of $1.59. The company predicts sales of $4 billion to $4.2 billion, above the $3.99 billion that analysts expect. Shares were trading up 20 cents to $21.85. Other health care volume movers included Pfizer ( PFE), down 37 cents to $21.88; Elan ( ELN), up 21 cents to $10.28; Medicis Pharmaceutical ( MRX), down $2.85 to $26.82; Novavax ( NVAX), up 43 cents to $3.37; Abbott Labs ( ABT), up 95 cents to $41.47; AVI Biopharma ( AVII), down 42 cents to $3.27; Merck ( MRK), down 7 cents to $30.16; Inamed ( IMDC), up $6.95 to $81.39; Allergan ( AGN), down $2.30 to $96.55; Schering-Plough ( SGP), up 1 cent to $19.27; and Amgen ( AMGN), up 30 cents to $81.95.