Updated from 1:49 p.m. EDTDespite analyst speculation and a trickle of earnings, health indices were relatively flat at the start of the week. Amgen ( AMGN) got a nudge Monday after an upgrade to outperform from market perform by Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Bernstein attributed the upgrade to potential restructuring. "We believe it is now inevitable that Amgen will announce a restructuring and that such an announcement could emerge within the next month, potentially even prior to the September 11 FDA advisory committee review of EPO safety in Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)," Bernstein analysts said in a report. The stock closed up $1.18, or 2.4%, to $51.26. Speaking of upgrades, ImClone ( IMCL), which named John Johnson CEO last week, was upgraded by Cowen & Co. on Friday to neutral from underperform. ImClone stock continued to rise into this week, closing up $1.41, or 4.5%, to $32.69. ImClone and Amgen are both components of the Nasdaq biotechnology index, which was up 1.87, or 0.2%, to 797.42 on Monday. On the earnings side, Ziopharm Oncology ( ZIOP) posted quarterly results Monday that showed a loss of $6.5 million, or 31 cents a share, compared with a loss of $5.4 million, or 43 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial had expected a loss of 27 cents a share.
A 26% increase in expenses, which tugged at the bottom line, was related to the clinical development of the company's three candidates: ZIO-101 for advanced myeloma and liver cancer among other things, 201 for advanced sarcoma, and anticancer agent 301. The company said a phase I trial for ZIO-101, or darinaparsin, has just been opened for enrollment. ZioPharm ascended 16 cents, or 4%, to $4.16. Sirtris Pharmaceuticals ( SIRT), which is developing treatments for metabolic diseases associated with aging, such as Type II diabetes, reported a loss of $6.6 million, or 51 cents a share, compared with $3.8 million in the year-ago quarter. Analysts had expected a loss of 30 cents a share. Sirtris completed an initial public offering that resulted in $62.5 million in net proceeds in May, and said that as of June 30, it had cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments of $136 million, compared with $50 million at the beginning of the calendar year. It expects to end the year with between $115 million and $110 million. Shares gained 63 cents, or 5.2%, to $12.74. Away from earnings, Indevus Pharmaceuticals ( IDEV) received a $49.9 million milestone payment from Esprit Pharma for Sanctura and the extended-release version of the overactive bladder treatment in light of its Aug. 3 approval by the Food and Drug Administration. Despite the company's payday, shares slid 18 cents, or 2.5%, to $6.94.
The FDA approved Lifecycle Pharma's version of Oscient Pharmaceutical's ( OSCI) cholesterol drug Antara, generically called fenofribrate, in the 120-milligram and 40-milligram dose strengths. Sciele Pharma ( SCRX) will sell it in the U.S. The companies said Lifecycle's Meltdose technology enhances the absorption of the drug and that it will have the lowest dosage strengths of fenofibrate available in the U.S. by the end of the year. Sciele, which paid LifeCycle $5 million upfront and will now pay another $4 million in milestones to the company, rose 53 cents, or 2.3%, to $23.37, while Oscient was up 10 cents, or 3%, to $3.40 on Monday. Last, Johnson & Johnson's ( JNJ) proposed $1.5 billion of notes (to be issued in three maturities: five-year, 10-year and 30-year, depending upon market conditions) got a AAA rating from S&P, which expects Johnson & Johnson to use the proceeds to repay commercial paper. J&J shares edged up 30 cents, or 0.5%, to $61.45 Monday.