Health stocks were mixed Monday as traders received a few earnings reports but didn't see a repeat of last week's merger frenzy. The Nasdaq Biotechnology index was down 0.3%, while its Amex counterpart was adding 0.5%. As for the big biotech stocks, Celgene ( CELG) and Cephalon ( CEPH) were down 2.4% and 3.4%, respectively. Gilead ( GILD), which last week bid for CV Therapeutics ( CVTX), was losing 3.9%. Having been outdone by Gilead, Astellas withdrew its offer for CV Therapeutics on Monday. Of the higher-volume movers on the Amex Biotech index, Amylin Pharmaceuticals ( AMLN) was up 50 cents, or 4.5%, to $11.70. Among the earnings releases, Cypress Bioscience ( CYPB) swung to a second-quarter loss of $7.2 million, or 19 cents a share, as revenue fell and costs increased. Shares were down 5.8%, or 47 cents, but volume was light. Also, StemCells ( STEM) lost 7.3% after announcing that its fourth-quarter loss widened to roughly $10 million, or 11 cents a share, primarily due to a writedown and a charge. Elsewhere, NPS Pharmaceuticals ( NPSP) rose 14.2% to $5.06 a share. The company reported on Friday that it had a fourth-quarter loss. However, a Jefferies & Co. analyst raised his rating for the stock to buy from hold after an update on two late-stage drug programs and further partnership developments. Checking in on traditional drugmakers, the Amex Pharmaceutical index added 1.4%. AstraZeneca ( AZN) added 4.5%, and Eli Lilly ( LLY) ticked up 3.4%. Sanofi-Aventis ( SNY) moved up 2.9%. On the losing end, Schering-Plough ( SGP), which Merck ( MRK) plans to buy, gave up 2.8%. Merck lost 1.8%.
At a time when healthcare investors seem especially primed for big, transformative biotech M&A, a deal in which Celgene acquires Biogen would be smart, profitable, opportunistic and certainly attention grabbing.