Updated from Friday, Oct. 10

Third-quarter results that will begin to roll in from biotech companies Tuesday have taken on new importance, as investors look to see if drug stocks will be a safe haven in the panic-stricken market.

Large-cap names are expected to perform at least in line with expectations, with some showing upside despite seasonality and pushback from a strengthening dollar.

According to the Credit Suisse biotech team, prescription data suggest that the large-cap biotech sector isn't due to repeat the strength seen in the second quarter, in part due to seasonality, raised expectations, and the foreign exchange rate.

"That said, we expect some companies to beat and with the economic outlook increasingly dim, we believe investors will again turn to biotech as a defensive sector," Credit Suisse writes.

Celgene ( CELG), Biogen Idec ( BIIB) and Gilead ( GILD) are among the names most likely to beat for the quarter.

Keep in mind, the Street predicted a beat for Genentech ( DNA) in the second quarter, but it missed by 4 cents a share. Now, the stock has been pegged as a potential weak spot in the third quarter, based on prescription data and charges.

Here are the consensus estimates for earnings per share (which typically factor out one-time items) and revenue:
3Q EPS Consensus
3Q Rev Consensus
FY08 EPS Consensus
FY08 Rev Consensus
88 cents
49 cents
89 cents
39 cents
Source: Thomson First Call

Genentech, Oct. 14

Analysts expect Genentech to earn 88 cents a share, on revenue of $3.36 billion. However, investors will likely focus on the potential buyout by Roche. The biotech bellwether in July rejected a bid from Swiss pharma company, which has yet to respond.

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