Shares of Beckman Coulter ( BEC) were among the health-related losers Friday, falling 5% after the maker of biomedical testing instruments posted mixed fourth-quarter results and issued lower-than-expected first-quarter guidance.

In the fourth quarter, the company earned $17.8 million, or 28 cents a share, on sales of $655.5 million. Excluding items, the company earned $46.9 million, or 73 cents a share. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call expected a lower profit of 72 cents a share, but higher sales of $668.6 million. During the year-earlier period, the company earned $59.8 million, or 91 cents a share, on sales of $693 million.

Looking ahead, Beckman Coulter sees first-quarter earnings of 30 cents to 40 cents a share, including stock-based compensation costs of 5 cents a share. Analysts project earnings, excluding stock-based compensation costs, of 64 cents a share. The company predicts sales of $555 million to $575 million, below analysts' target of $582.1 million. For 2006, Beckman Coulter continues to see earnings of $2.70 to $2.90 a share, including stock-based compensation costs of about 20 cents a share, on sales of $2.53 billion to $2.6 billion. Analysts project earnings, excluding stock-based compensation costs, of $3.02 a share on sales of $2.56 billion. Shares were trading down $3.25 to $56.91.

American Pharmaceutical Partners ( APPX) rose 3% after the drugmaker posted fourth-quarter earnings that topped forecasts. The company earned $23.4 million, or 32 cents a share, on sales of $144.8 million. Excluding items, the company earned $28.2 million, or 38 cents a share. Analysts expected earnings of 35 cents a share, before items. A year earlier, the company earned $21.9 million, or 30 cents a share, on sales of $122.6 million. Shares were trading up $1.02 to $32.63.

Shares of NuVasive ( NUVA) fell 2.5% after a lower-than-expected sales guidance overshadowed fourth-quarter results that topped expectations. The medical device company posted a fourth-quarter loss of $4.2 million, or 17 cents a share, on sales of $18.6 million. Excluding items, the company reported a loss of $3.4 million, or 14 cents a share. Analysts expected a loss of 15 cents a share, before items, on sales of $18.3 million. During the year-earlier quarter, the company recorded an adjusted loss of $1.9 million, or 8 cents a share, on sales of $11.8 million.

Looking ahead, NuVasive sees first-quarter sales of $18.5 million to $19 million. For the full year, the company projects sales of $87 million to $90 million. Analysts forecast first-quarter sales of $20 million and full-year sales of $92.2 million. The company said it expects to break even during the fourth quarter of 2006. Shares were trading down 53 cents to $20.70.

NPS Pharmaceuticals ( NPSP) posted a narrower-than-expected fourth-quarter loss. The biotech company reported a loss of $44.3 million, or 96 cents a share, on revenue of $4.3 million. Analysts expected a bigger loss of $1.01 a share. During the year-earlier period, the company generated a loss of $52 million, or $1.34 a share, on revenue of $1.1 million. Shares were trading down 4 cents to $13.90.

Shares of Onyx Pharmaceuticals ( ONXX) fell 3% after the biopharmaceutical company posted a wider-than-expected fourth-quarter loss. The company's loss swelled to $38.4 million, or $1 a share, from $14.2 million, or 40 cents a share, a year earlier. The company recorded no revenue for the period, compared with $500,000 a year earlier. Analysts expected a loss of 88 cents a share and revenue of $2.35 million. Shares were trading down 76 cents to $27.77.

Other health care volume movers included Pfizer ( PFE), down 9 cents to $25.72; Amgen ( AMGN), up 48 cents to $74.45; Boston Scientific ( BSX), down 6 cents to $24.52; Genta ( GNTA), down 4 cents to $2.74; Elan ( ELN), down 40 cents to $14.14; Merck ( MRK), down 11 cents to $35.87; Bristol-Myers Squibb ( BMY), down 10 cents to $22.89; Schering-Plough ( SGP), down 18 cents to $19.15; and Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ), unchanged at $58.98.