By Val Brickates Kennedy, MarketWatch
BOSTON (MarketWatch) -- Drug stocks managed narrow gains Wednesday afternoon, but a pair of small-cap biotech firms -- Achillion and pSivida -- rallied.
The NYSE Arca Pharmaceutical Index and the NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index were both up fractionally to stand at 311.49 and 935.98, respectively.
Shares of pSivida Corp. soared 40% to $4.86.
The company reported positive Phase III results for Iluvien, a drug candidate that's being tested on patients with diabetic macular edema, a leading cause of blindness among diabetics.
The therapy is being co-developed with privately held Alimera Sciences.
Also higher, shares of Achillion Pharmaceuticals /zigman2/quotes/227285072/composite ACHN -16.67% shot up 14% to $3.61. Analysts at Roth Capital Partners initiated coverage with a buy rating.
Meanwhile, U.S.-listed shares of Sanofi-Aventis /zigman2/quotes/201967021/composite SNY -1.15% moved up 1% at $39.79.
They've been on an upward swing since the French drugmaker announced Dec. 21 that it plans to acquire U.S.-based Chattem in an effort to diversify its business. See more on buyout of over-the-counter manufacturer Chattem.
Shares of Bristol-Myers Squibb /zigman2/quotes/202559280/composite BMY +0.12% were up marginally at $25.68.
Bristol-Myers updated its 2009 financial outlook early Wednesday to reflect the recent Mead Johnson Nutrition Co. spin-off.
The drugmaker said that it now sees 2009 earnings from continuing operations coming in between $1.51 and $1.56 a share, down from its previous estimate of $1.72 to $1.77. Adjusted earnings from continuing operations should range between $1.75 to $1.80 a share, down from $2.00 to $2.05.
The company added that its financial results will show a gain of about $7 billion due to the Mead transaction, in addition to contributions made to its philanthropic foundation. The reduction of shares in Bristol-Myers' float will have a nominal impact on 2009 results, the company said.