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Even including a dismal performance this week following the re-election of President Obama, the markets have had a very good 2012, and much of that has to do with the outperformance of the health-care sector. Can all facets of the health-care sector continue climbing to new highs? That answer could lie in what happens with regard to these five stories bound to make waves next week.
In terms of biotech data, all eyes will be on Dynavax Technologies (Nasdaq: DVAX ) , which is expected to go before the FDA panel on Wednesday with Hepislav, its hepatitis-B treatment for adults. The company's phase 3 results, released in March, demonstrated 90% seroprotection for adults after seven months, compared with just 82% for Energix-B, the primary treatment currently produced by GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK ) . Not only was it slightly more effective than Energix-B, but it also worked for a longer period of time. Also, as my Foolish colleague Keith Speights pointed out recently, the simple fact that the FDA widened the age-range of testing to 18 to 70 years of age from what Dynavax had suspected would be a cutoff range of 40 years of age signifies a potential favorable bias in favor of Hepislav.
Although it isn't widely touted, it's worth keeping an eye on the Cell Science and Stem Cell Research Conference in San Antonio from Nov. 12 to Nov. 14. StemCells (Nasdaq: STEM ) , for instance, has been burning through cash in spite of many perceived positive preclinical and early-stage studies. This conference could be the impetus that gives StemCells and its peers a sorely needed short-term boost.
Earnings season is coming to a close, but we still have three key medical-equipment companies stepping up to the plate this week: Hologic (Nasdaq: HOLX ) , Sirona Dental Systems (Nasdaq: SIRO ) , and Cyberonics (Nasdaq: CYBX ) .
Diagnostic, digital imaging, and surgical products provider Hologic is slated to report third-quarter earnings results on Monday, with analysts anticipating a 25% jump in revenue and a profit of $0.37, according to Yahoo! Finance. As Fool Dan Caplinger notes, Hologic shareholders weren't too pleased with the company's $3.75 billion buyout of Gen-Probe earlier in the year, so they'll be looking for confirmation that the deal was indeed accretive to earnings as Hologic had projected.
Sirona Dental Systems is expected to report at the far end of the week -- before the bell on Friday. It'll definitely be a crucial quarter for Sirona which supplies dental equipment, such as CAD/CAM modeling machines, to dental labs and dentists. Having previously worked in a dental lab in my youth, I can tell you firsthand that labs are extremely susceptible to falls in consumer spending. Don't be surprised if Sirona's guidance is more cautious than Wall Street's consensus figures call for.
Finally, implantable-medical-device maker Cyberonics is also set to report its second-quarter results before the bell on Friday. The company, known best for its vagal nerve stimulation therapy, is facing an uncertain future with European and U.S. spending remaining weak, and the Affordable Care Act set to enact a 2.3% tax on the company's devices beginning in 2013. On the plus side, Cyberonics has beaten Wall Street's EPS estimates in four consecutive quarters, but that's no guarantee moving forward.
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