Wall Street, anxiously awaiting Friday's jobs report for the last several days, finally got the news it was waiting for today. But the monthly employment snapshot, instead of providing a nice, clean-cut, crystal-clear data set for investors to make sound decisions upon, provided both extremely positive and starkly negative news. On the plus side, nonfarm payrolls surged by 288,000 in April, crushing the consensus forecast of 215,000. However, at the same time, Americans dropped out of the labor force left and right, as the labor force declined by more than 800,000 last month. The stock market fell slightly on the news, but Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (NASDAQ: VRTX ) , Alexion Pharmaceuticals, (NASDAQ: ALXN ) , and F5 Networks, (NASDAQ: FFIV ) all cratered in trading on Friday. Meanwhile the S&P 500 Index (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) shed two points, or 0.1%, to end at 1,881.
Vertex Pharmaceuticals stock fell 3.7% today in reaction to news that the company would be doubling down on its efforts to sell cystic fibrosis treatments rather than its once-popular Hepatitis C drug, Incivek. Although quarterly revenue from its cystic fibrosis drug Kalydeco surged more than 60% to nearly $100 million, the company's overall sales plummeted 64% as Incivek went from selling more than $200 million in the year-ago period to less than $4 million in the first quarter of 2014. Vertex is now a one-trick pony reliant on Kalydeco sales, but it'll be tough to match the explosive sales growth Incivek once brought to the company.
Shares of another biotech company, Alexion Pharmaceuticals, slumped 2.9% Friday, as the health-care sector generally struggled, losing 0.8% on the whole. Alexion Pharmaceuticals is often mentioned in the same breath as Vertex, since both companies make their bread and butter on orphan drugs, or drugs that affect a very small percentage of the population. In order to make the sale of these orphan drugs economical, these businesses stick the drugs with sky-high price tags. In the case of Alexion, its drug, Soliris -- used to treat paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria -- is the most expensive drug in the world, with a sticker price of more than $400,000.
The tech sector also ended as one of Friday's losers. Shares of F5 Networks tumbled 2.8% today. Unfortunately, there wasn't a definitive catalyst driving the stock lower -- in fact, F5's recent results have been largely positive. Sales jumped by 20% in the most recent quarter as the company's cash-rich telecom clients ramped up spending on infrastructure. F5, which sells products that make networks run more smoothly and efficiently, is firmly positioned in an industry that won't be going away anytime soon, so take today's minor pullback with a grain of salt.
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