Healthcare Sector Higher But Lagging Broader Markets; Zalicus Up 30% on Merger Deal

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Healthcare stocks were higher Wednesday with the NYSE Healthcare Sector Index rising 0.3% and shares of healthcare companies in the S&P 500 posting a 0.4% gain as a group.

In company news, Zalicus ( ZLCS ) was nearly 30% higher shortly before the close and the drugmaker agreeing to merge with privately held Epirus Biopharmaceuticals in an all-stock transaction.

Current ZLCS shareholders will own between 14% to 19% of the combined companies - to be known as Epirus Biopharmaceuticals - depending on the amount of cash on its books when the deal closes. If ZLCS is holding over $9 million in cash, shareholders will own 19% of the merged firm's stock. That share would fall to around 17% if the company has between $9 million to $12 million in cash on hand and sliding to 14% if the coffers contain less than $9 million.

The post-merger company will retain ZLCS' position as a publicly traded company on the Nasdaq stock exchange and Epirus President and CEO Amit Munshi keeping those titles and responsibilities after the deal closes.

Separately Wednesday, Epirus said it closed on a $36 million Series B funding round with venture capital firms and other institutional investors led by Livzon Mabpharm Inc.

ZCLS shares were up 29.2% at $1.33 each in late-afternoon trading, earlier advancing as much as % to an intra-day high of $1.74 a share. The stock has a 52-week range of 88 cents to $8.28 a share, falling nearly 61% over the past 12 months through Tuesday's close.

In other sector news,

(+) ZGNX, Federal judge late Tuesday issues a court order preventing the State of Massachusetts from enforcing a ban on sales and distribution of its Zohydro painkiller, effective April 22.

(+) STJ, Q1 EPS of $0.96, ex items, beats by $0.01 per share. Revenue rose 1.9% year over year to $1.36 bln, in-line with analyst projections. Issues in-line forecasts for Q2, FY14 earnings and revenue.



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