Top Health Care Stocks
Health care stocks were narrowly mixed in late trade, including a less than 0.1% decline for the NYSE Health Care Index this afternoon. Shares of health care companies in the S&P 500 also were up less than 0.1% as a group while the Nasdaq Biotechnology index was dropping almost 0.8% today.
Among health care stocks moving on news:
+ Allergan ( AGN ) advanced Thursday, at one point adding almost 6% in extra value, amid reports activist investor Carl Icahn has been building a small stake in the Irish pharmaceuticals company. The size of Icahn's stake and his reasons for amassing Allergan shares were unclear, although a Bloomberg report notes that Icahn and Allergan CEO Brent Saunders share a long history with the other. Principals at two hedge funds that own Allergan stock - Appaloosa Management and Senator Investment Group - earlier this week said the company should separate its CEO and board chairman roles or find a new leader to take the helm. Saunders currently holds both posts.
In other sector news:
- Merck ( MRK ) was slightly lower this afternoon, slipping almost 1%, after the pharmaceuticals giant said it has struck a deal with UK-based 4D Pharmaceutics for an early-stage trial that will study a combination of Merck's Keytruda cancer drug and 4D's MRx0518 live biotherapeutic candidate in patients with solid tumors. MRx0518 previously has shown therapeutic potential in a variety of tumor types in pre-clinical models and the upcoming Phase I study will evaluate safety, tolerability and preliminary clinical benefits of the drug combination in patients with certain forms of melanoma, renal, bladder and non-small cell lung cancer, 4D said.
- ImmunoGen ( IMGN ) declined Thursday, sinking as much as 7%, after the drugmaker priced an upsized, $150.7 million public offering of 13.7 million shares of its common stock at $11 apiece, representing a 3.4% discount to Wednesday's closing price for the stock. The deal was increased in size by 1.7 million shares shortly before pricing and the company also issued a 30-day option to underwriters to buy up to 2.055 million shares to cover possible over-allotments. It expects to use net proceeds from the offering, together with cash on hand, for research and development and clinical trials as well as for potential acquisitions.
- Proteostasis Therapeutics ( PTI ) dropped over 25% on Thursday after data from an ongoing, 14-day dosing study showed a combination of its lumacaftor drug candidate and Vertex Pharmaceuticals' (VRX,VRX.TO) ivacaftor cystic fibrosis medication helped improve a measure of lung function in patients although the change was not large enough to be considered statistically significant. The Orkambi drug combination also showed improvement in sweat chloride, body mass index, weight and blood glucose levels in patients with cystic fibrosis as well as reversing hyperglycemia in a patient subgroup with diabetes, the company said, adding it was still trying to overcome an acute drop in the volume of air that patients can blow out per second of forced expiration associated with lumacaftor.