Clinical data and analyst speculation pushed a few biotech stocks up on Thursday while others fell in light of earnings. First, two stocks with data: Advanced Life Sciences Holdings ( ADLS) and Amylin ( AMLN). Advanced Life Sciences rose after announcing positive results from Trial CL-05, the second of two pivotal phase III clinical trials assessing the safety and efficacy of cethromycin, a once-a-day antibiotic for mild-to-moderate community acquired pneumonia (CAP). The study results showed that cethromycin was non-inferior to Biaxin, a current standard-of-care treatment for CAP, and demonstrated favorable safety results, with reported side effects similar to or less than those seen with Biaxin. The company said around 5.6 million cases of CAP are diagnosed each year in the U.S, resulting in an estimated total annual expenditure of $2 billion for prescribed antibiotics. CAP is potentially fatal if not treated properly, and the bacteria that cause CAP are developing resistance to current standard-of-care treatments. Shares edged up 8 cents, or 4.2%, to $1.98. Meanwhile, Amylin said that in a 24-week phase IIa study its drug candidate pramlintide in combination with metreleptin (which requires four daily injections -- two of each component) reduced the body weight of participants in a 177-patient study by an average of 12.7%, while treatment with pramlintide alone reduced body weight by 8.4%. However, only 139 of the 177 patients were eligible to participate in the last 20 weeks of the study. Shares were trading up $1, or 2.5%, at $42.06.
Elsewhere, Lehman Brothers upgraded Amgen ( AMGN) to overweight from equal weight and increased its price target to $72 based on new transfusion data that the company submitted with a formal request for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Reimbursement to reconsider the national coverage determination (NCD) for Erythropoietin (EPO) for anemia in cancer patients. The data suggest that transfusions are being used more frequently in mildly anemic patients that could have been treated with EPO. The Lehman Brothers upgrade also comes ahead of detailed phase III data for denosumab in patients with cancer-related bone disease. Merrill Lynch maintained its buy rating for Amgen on Thursday, noting, "We view Amgen's formal reconsideration request as a start, but believe more data will be needed to convince CMS to revise the NCD for EPO use in cancer patients." Amgen's shares edged up $1.13, or 2.11%, at $54.76. The stock is a component of the Amex pharmaceutical index, which was down 0.5, or 0.2%, at 343.90. Also up on the uptick Thursday, Genzyme ( GENZ) garnered $2.21, or 3.1%, to $72.92 reacting to news that activist investor Carl Icahn took on 1.52 million shares of the company in the last quarter and subsequent buyout speculation. On the earnings front, Zoll Medical ( ZOLL) rose after delivering a fiscal fourth-quarter earnings and revenue beat Thursday morning. The company, which focuses on noninvasive resuscitation devices and software, said net income increased 26% to $6.8 million, compared to $5.4 million in the prior-year period, and earnings per share increased 22% to 33 cents, compared to 27 cents a share in the fourth quarter of last year. Revenue increased 25% to $92.8 million, compared to $74.2 million in the year-ago period. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were expecting 31 cents a share on revenue of $85.21 million. Zoll's shares rose $2.13, or 9.2%, to $25.19.
China Shenghuo Pharmaceutical Holdings ( KUN) posted third-quarter net income of $900,000, or 4 cents a share, compared with $300,000, or 2 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter. Net sales fell to $4.2 million, from $5.1 million in the 2006 quarter, resulting from the company's adoption of more stringent credit policies which caused a shift in its customer base and a decline in sales volume. The company revised its guidance and now expects full-year revenue of between $20 million and $22 million and net earnings of between $4 million and $5 million, between 20 cents and 25 cents a share for the full fiscal year. It previously predicted revenue between $24 million and $26 million and earnings of between $5 million and $6 million, or between 26 cents a share and 31 cents a share, for the full fiscal year. Shares fell $1.80, or 25%, to $5.52. And Tiens' Biotech Group ( TBV), which makes nutrition supplements and personal care products, reported third-quarter income of $3.1 million, or 4 cents a share, vs. $8.4 million, or 12 cents a share, in the 2006 quarter. Revenue fell to $11 million from $19.2 million for the year-ago period. The company said that a national campaign in China against unsafe food and substandard products has resulted in a slowdown and blacklog of export clearances for its Chinese food products, which are sold to its international affiliates. Although the company says there have been no problems identified with any of its products, the delays have affected international revenue. Shares gave up 66 cents, or 18.5%, to $2.91.