Healthcare Takeover Talk Continues

 |  Includes: AHCI, CVM, NVAX, SNY, SQNM, VRX
by: M. E. Garza

Don't look for any of the merger and acquisition talk that has been hovering over the healthcare sector lately to go away. Sanofi-Aventis' (NYSE:SNY) Chief Executive Officer Chris Viehbacher said in an interview late Tuesday that his company will continue “shopping” for acquisitions to build its vaccine, biotechnology, and nonprescription medicine businesses, as well as expand in emerging markets. “There will be more shopping on the horizon,” Viehbacher said, declining to identify targets to Bloomberg. Purchases must add to the company’s growth, Viehbacher said. According to reports, the company finds vaccines quite attractive because the market will double during the next five years.

Speaking of vaccines, forget what we said after Novavax, Inc. (NASDAQ:NVAX) closed up 16% after the week's first session. The company, whose vaccines leverage its virus-like particle (VLP) platform technology, looked like it was attempting to rebound after a recent two week skid may have just been taking a breather. While it still looks like a solid long term play, shares have been sliding downward slowly since they announced that they were going to raise capital on September 16. Shares gave up half of their Monday gains and closed at $4.12 -0.29 (-6.58%).

It could be that investors playing the pandemic investment sector have opted to move from one cutting edge flu technology to another. Shares of Cel-Sci (NYSEMKT:CVM) have continued rising steadily as small-cap investors are are looking more closely at this company whose H1N1 treatment differentiates them from the usual vaccine and antiviral stock plays. Still, don't look for any representatives from Cel-Sci to seek face time in the media any time soon. CNBC may be spending part of their broadcast day "Tracking the Flu" on Wednesday, but unless there is a last minute change, we're told that Cel-Sci's reps won't be commenting or appearing during the coverage. Multiple reports have company staff and vendors "being stretched to the limits twenty four hours a day" as they rush to continue their work on the Swine Flu treatment's new human trials- recently fast tracked by the FDA. The secrecy that has shrouded the new cold-fill lab facility (scheduled to officially go on-line in the coming days) and their work on this novel treatment option for those already infected with the H1N1 virus continues at the company headquarters near Washington D.C.

ISTA Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (ISTA), who won unanimous support for the approval of their Bepreve drug for the treatment of itchy eyes from the FDA closed as one of the sector's biggest gainers, up to $4.53 +0.28 (6.59%) after a nice write-up in the Motley Fool. The company has more approvals coming down the pipeline and it's investors are feeling very bullish. ISTA is the fourth largest branded ophthalmic pharmaceutical business in the U.S. ISTA’s four marketed products plus its product candidates include therapies for inflammation, ocular pain, glaucoma, allergy, and dry eye.

Allied Healthcare International Inc. (NASDAQ:AHCI) 2.87+0.16 (5.90%) has continued thier very quiet yet steady climb that began in early February. Yesterday's close gave them a new 52 week high. Try talking to other investors on forums and chat rooms about the company- if you can find them. Allied is a provider of flexible, or temporary, healthcare staffing to the healthcare industry in the United Kingdom. The Company provides personal or basic care and nursing services in the home, in nursing and care homes and in hospitals. The aging population and other factors may continue to propel them upward. Under a recently announced contract, Allied has the opportunity to deliver up to one thousand four-hundred hours of home care services a week (72,800 hours a year) as one of six providers within Redbridge, a borough of London with a population of 250,000.

The biggest loser in the sector, and they've been called worse, is Sequenom, Inc. (NASDAQ:SQNM). Shares lost 39% of their value to close at $ 3.46 -2.23. The diagnostics firm fired a slew of key execs after an investigation revealed mishandled test data. After the market closed on Monday, Sequenom said an investigation by a committee of independent directors revealed that the company "failed to provide adequate protocols and controls" of results for its prenatal Down syndrome blood test. Shares have lost 80% of their value over all during the last year.

Here is a look at some of the Healthcare sector's other winners and losers for Tuesday, Sept 29, 2009:

Gainers (% price change) Last Trade Change

Mkt Cap

Young Innovations, Inc. YDNT 26.41 +1.76 (7.14%) 208.72M
ISTA Pharmaceuticals, Inc ISTA 4.53 +0.28 (6.59%) 150.48M
Allied Healthcare Intl AHCI 2.87 +0.16 (5.90%) 129.11M
Bovie Medical Corporation BVX 8.14 +0.42 (5.44%) 138.61M
Amylin Pharmaceuticals AMLN 13.72 +0.59 (4.49%) 1.94B

Losers (% price change)

Sequenom, Inc. SQNM 3.46 -2.23 (-39.19%) 211.61M
Sucampo Pharmaceuticals SCMP 5.52 -0.48 (-8.00%) 230.98M
I-Flow Corporation IFLO 11.34 -0.80 (-6.59%) 277.30M
Novavax, Inc. NVAX 4.12 -0.29 (-6.58%) 374.15M
DURECT Corporation DRRX 2.64 -0.18 (-6.38%) 217.01M

Most Actives (dollar volume)

Wyeth WYE 48.65 +0.56 (1.16%) 64.95B
Pfizer Inc. PFE 16.77 +0.20 (1.21%) 113.18B
Abbott Laboratories ABT 49.10 +0.52 (1.07%) 75.90B
Johnson & Johnson JNJ 60.93 -0.34 (-0.55%) 167.91B
Merck & Co., Inc. MRK 31.85 -0.18 (-0.56%) 67.17B
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Disclosure: Long NVAX, CVM.