Health indices were pulled taut Thursday by stocks moving in both directions on acquisition, earnings, clinical and regulatory news. Aspreva ( ASPV) shares bounded $3.11, or 13.8%, to $25.61, on news that Galenica Group will acquire all of Aspreva's outstanding shares for $26 apiece, or around $915 million. The price is a 16% premium over the Canadian company's Oct. 16 closing price and a 24% premium over the 30-day average trading price of Aspreva shares. Aspreva has two phase III clinical development programs under way to evaluate CellCept, an oral treatment for autoimmune diseases, such as lupus nephritis. The company is a component of the Nasdaq biotechnology index, which was down 0.48, or 0.05%, at 892.03. On the earnings side, Baxter ( BAX) said that quarterly sales climbed 8% to $2.75 billion from $2.56 billion last year. The company reported its net income rose to $395 million, or 61 cents a share for the quarter, from $374 million, or 57 cents a share, during the year-ago quarter. The recent quarter included one-time charges of $63 million, or 9 cents a share, related to an acquisition and a lawsuit -- excluding items, Baxter earned $458 million, or 70 cents a share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial had predicted 66 cents a share on revenue of $2.68 billion. Baxter now expects to earn $2.75 to $2.77 a share, excluding special items, compared to prior forecasts of $2.65 to $2.70 per share previously. Shares rose $4.45, or 8.1%, to $59.77.
Stocks soar as the gross domestic product rises at an annualized rate of 3.5% in the third quarter and continuing jobless claims fall. Gregg Greenberg recaps the action in The Real Story video (above).