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Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Put Buyers Take Profits During Slide

Karee Venema

Amid an up day in the broader equities market, the shares of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ALNY) are trading 6.4% lower at $77.25, on news Sanofi (SNY) divested its roughly 10% stake in the biopharmaceutical firm. This comes after the two companies concluded a research and options phase of an RNAi therapeutics collaboration that began in 2014.

It's already been a rough week for ALNY stock -- down 11.3% so far -- which has been falling since the company's Wednesday-morning earnings report. The shares are now poised to close below their 120-day moving average for the first time since late February, but could be finding a familiar foothold in the $77-$78 range, site of an early January bull gap that served as a floor in the first quarter.

alny stock daily price chart on may 3

ALNY options traders are in overdrive this afternoon, with 3,000 puts and 2,035 calls on the tape -- five times the average daily volume of 981 contracts, and total volume pacing in the 99th annual percentile. Options bears may be taking profits at the May 90 put. Trade-Alert indicates a number of these puts were bought to open on Monday, April 30, for around $4.65 apiece, and the bid price at this now in-the-money strike was last seen at $12.30.

Elsewhere on Wall Street, short sellers have been ramping up their bearish exposure to the biopharma. Short interest edged up 3.1% in the most recent reporting period to 5.52 million shares. This accounts for a healthy 6.1% of Alnylam Pharm's available float, or 7.7 times the average daily pace of trading.

Analysts, meanwhile, are mostly bullish on the ALNY stock. While 10 of 13 covering brokerages maintain a "buy" or better rating, the average 12-month price target of $125.22 is a roughly 62% premium to current trading levels.