Shares of I-Flow ( IFLO) were among the worst-performing health-related stocks Tuesday, slumping 15% after the maker of infusion systems posted fourth-quarter results that missed expectations. The company reported a loss of $5.3 million, or 23 cents a share, on sales of $26.9 million. The results included stock-based compensation costs of $6.1 million. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call expected break-even earnings, including stock-based compensation costs, on sales of $28.1 million. A year earlier, the company posted a loss of $12.3 million, or 56 cents a share, on sales of $21.1 million. The company's recent sales results were hurt by a shortage of 5-flourouracil, a widely used chemotherapy drug. The company said the shortage lowered fourth-quarter sales by about $1.9 million. "Because the market availability of 5-FU is not expected to return to normal for several months, we anticipate a comparable impact in the first quarter of 2006," the company said. Shares were trading down $2.49 to $13.81. United Therapeutics ( UTHR) fell 8% after the drugmaker posted fourth-quarter results that were well below forecasts. The company earned $29.4 million, or $1.14 a share, on sales of $29.6 million. Excluding a $17.5 million tax benefit, the company earned $11.9 million, or 46 cents a share. Analysts expected earnings of 66 cents a share and sales of $36.9 million. During the year-ago quarter, the company earned $6.9 million, or 28 cents a share, on sales of $21.6 million. Shares were trading down $5.28 to $61.74. Shares of Triad Hospitals ( TRI) rose 4% after the hospital operator posted better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings. The company reported earnings from continuing operations of $59 million, or 68 cents a share, on sales of $1.27 billion. Analysts expected earnings of 66 cents a share and sales of $1.27 billion. A year earlier, the company earned $49.4 million, or 64 cents a share, on sales of $1.08 billion.
Looking ahead, Triad sees 2006 earnings from continuing operations of $3.04 to $3.16 a share, excluding 23 cents a share in stock-based compensation costs. Analysts project earnings of $3.07 a share. Shares were up $1.78 to $43.95. Alnylam Pharmaceuticals ( ALNY) rose 8% after the company announced a new collaboration with Novartis ( NVS) to develop RNAi therapeutics for pandemic flu. "We are delighted to work with our colleagues at Alnylam to devise new therapies for influenza," Novartis said. "The influenza virus, through rapid mutation and potential inter-species transfer, represents an epidemic threat to the citizens of all countries." The latest collaboration adds to a partnership that was formed by the two companies in September. Financial terms of the most recent pact weren't disclosed. Shares of Alnylam recently were up $1.09 to $15.13. Shares of Option Care ( OPTN) rose 1% after the home health care provider posted in-line fourth-quarter earnings. The company earned $6.7 million, or 20 cents a share. Excluding certain items, the company earned 18 cents a share, matching analysts' mean estimate. Option Care reported sales of $144.2 million, shy of Wall Street's target of $145.1 million. During the year-earlier period, the company earned $5.3 million, or 16 cents a share, on sales of $112.7 million. For 2006, Option Care forecast earnings of 70 cents to 76 cents a share, excluding about 5 cents in stock-based compensation costs. The company predicts full-year sales of $580 million to $610 million. Analysts project earnings of 75 cents a share, with sales of $608.1 million. Option Care shares were adding 18 cents to $13.99. Other health care volume movers included Pfizer ( PFE), down 12 cents to $25.70; Novavax ( NVAX), up 43 cents to $5.03; Amgen ( AMGN), down 29 cents to $74.60; Boston Scientific ( BSX), down 25 cents to $24.20; Genta ( GNTA), down 4 cents to $2.63; Elan ( ELN), down 14 cents to $13.95; Merck ( MRK), down 35 cents to $35.70; Bristol-Myers Squibb ( BMY), up 3 cents to $23.11; Schering-Plough ( SGP), down 11 cents to $19.08; and Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ), up 8 cents to $59.15.