Shares of Martek Biosciences ( MATK) were among the best-performing health-related stocks Wednesday, climbing 13% after the maker of algae-related nutritional products posted better-than-expected fiscal first-quarter results. The company earned $5.6 million, or 17 cents a share, on revenue of $62.9 million. Excluding stock-based compensation costs, the company earned $6.2 million, or 19 cents a share, for the January quarter. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call expected earnings of 13 cents a share on revenue of $61.3 million. A year earlier, the company earned $7.1 million, or 23 cents a share, on revenue of $66.5 million. "Martek's first quarter revenues and earnings exceeded earlier expectations despite the adoption of the new stock option accounting rules," the company said. "Recent improvements in our core business and developments in the food area position the company well" for the rest of 2006 and beyond, the company said. Shares were trading up $3.92 to $34.45. Cepheid ( CPHD) fell 7% after the maker of genetic-analysis systems priced 10 million shares of stock at $8.60 a share, a 6% discount to Tuesday's closing price of $9.15. The company also granted underwriters a 30-day option to buy an additional 1.5 million shares in the secondary offering to cover over-allotments. The sale is expected to close on March 13. UBS Investment Bank led the underwriting syndicate. Shares were down 63 cents to $8.52. Shares of Emisphere Technologies ( EMIS) rose 5% after the biopharmaceutical company said Novartis ( NVS) executed a license option to develop an oral parathyroid hormone using Emisphere's eligen technology. In addition to being eligible for royalties that are tied to sales, Emisphere also may receive up to $30 million in milestone payments. Emisphere shares recently had gained 31 cents to $6.33. WellCare Health Plans ( WCG) rose 5% after the health insurer priced a secondary offering at $39.56 a share, equal to Tuesday's closing price. The company is selling some 500,000 of the 4.85 million shares being sold, while existing stockholders are selling the remainder. WellCare said it plans to use proceeds from the offering to support the growth of the business. Shares were up $1.92 to $41.48.
Shares of Almost Family ( AFAM) soared 18% after the provider of home-health nursing services posted a big year-over-year fourth-quarter profit gain. The company reported adjusted earnings from continuing operations of $859,425, or 32 cents a share, on revenue of $19.4 million. During the year-earlier quarter, the company earned $362,994, or 14 cents a share, on revenue of $16.9 million. Shares were trading $2.65 higher to $17.15. Henry Schein ( HSIC) shares rose modestly after the health-care products company announced a definitive agreement to by NLS Animal Health, a veterinary distribution business. Henry Schein expects the deal to be slightly accretive to its 2006 earnings per share, and to add about 2 cents to 4 cents a share in 2007. Financial terms of the acquisition weren't disclosed. Henry Schein shares were up 44 cents to $46.41. Other health care volume movers included Pfizer ( PFE), down 5 cents to $26.14; Generex Biotech ( GNBT), up 7 cents to $2.09; Boston Scientific ( BSX), down 43 cents to $22.90; Schering-Plough ( SGP), up 12 cents to $18.16; Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ), up 11 cents to $58.33; Novavax ( NVAX), down 9 cents to $5.37; Amgen ( AMGN), down 23 cents to $73.56; Merck ( MRK), up 20 cents to $34.72; and Bristol-Myers Squibb ( BMY), up 9 cents to $22.68.