Investors were treated to a busy day in health care, even it if wasn't met with the sectors traditional volatility. Let's jump in and take a look at the big headlines from today.
The flu must be going around Barclay's analysts, as the company issued guidance on a whole host of hospital stocks. Its top picks for the space are HCA and Universal Health, with the bank seeing 30% and 20% upside in them respectively. Tenet Healthcare (NYSE: THC ) only received an "equal rate" weighting, although its share price target allowed for more than 15% upside. A share price of $7 doesn't make sense anymore, after the company executed a 4 for 1 reverse stock split today, bringing its price per share to just over $24. So, for investors who see a 300% price gain, it is, in fact, too good to be true.
Meanwhile, Cantel Medical (NYSE: CMN ) fell 11%, despite doubling net income for the quarter -- welcome to the Wall Street expectations game. The $0.01 a share miss came after backing out a $0.04 cent gain for closing a Japanese subsidiary, and dilution added to the share count. It was nice seeing gross margins increase nicely to 43.3%, and the top-line grow by 15%. The stock's gone on an impressive run and, despite the sell-off, still looks a little expensive. However, Cantel consistently produces more in free cash flow than it reports in net income. This is definitely a stock to watch going forward.
Speaking of things investors have their eyes glued on, Amarin (Nasdaq: AMRN ) observers are still waiting for New Chemical Entity (NCE) status for its newly-approved triglyceride fighter Vascepa. The thought is that a potential buyout of Amarin is dependent on whether they get three versus five years of market exclusivity. The delay, highlighted by a new disclosure on the company's 8-K, raises concerns that Amarin will have to go it alone, hire a salesforce, and attempt to market Vascepa on its own. This would be a disaster for investors hoping for a buyout at a nice premium and a swift exit. Stay tuned for next month's FDA Orange Book to see if a verdict comes down.
Vertex Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: VRTX ) presented more Kalydeco and VX-809 trial results battling cystic fibrosis, and there were no negative surprises. Despite variability, there is a clear increase in lung function when used together. Concerns over sweat chloride reduction not correlating with increased lung function is a concern given the small nature of the trial, but Vertex assured investors that sweat chloride was simply a biomarker. That said, it will be something to watch as the trial size expands, especially if the improvement in lung function doesn't show the same results.
Finally, that brings us to Dendreon (Nasdaq: DNDN ) , which was the subject of an exclusive Reuters report claiming the company changed its trial guidelines to emphasize prostate cancer vaccine Provenge's effectiveness. However, this isn't breaking news. The FDA was aware that the age-based analysis moved from 65 years old to 71 years old, and the agency stands by its approval decision. Dendreon also dismissed allegations that the placebo treatment negatively affected older males, helping make Provenge's 4.1 month survival benefit statistically significant. What's really important for Dendreon is the trial that they're currently running using Provenge in conjunction with Zytiga. If the two very different drugs can't team up to create a more effective cocktail treatment for prostate cancer, investors will actually have something to worry about.