Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Shares Dropped: What You Need to Know

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of biotech Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (NAS: ALNY) are dipping 10% today following the release of the company's fourth-quarter earnings results.

So what: As with most biotech companies, today's story has very little to do with the fact that Alnylam met Wall Street's estimates with a loss of $0.33 -- but has everything to do with its cash burn rate. In fiscal 2011, Alnylam burned through $89 million in cash. Its fiscal 2012 forecast anticipates that the company will end the year with "greater than $180 million at December 31, 2012." This implies a cash burn rate of up to $80 million more.

Now what: Alnylam has already had a huge run, doubling in price since late November. The RNAi therapeutics company currently has three experimental therapies in phase 1 clinical trials and one in phase 2 trials. Partnered with Cubist Pharmaceuticals (NAS: CBST) to license the drug worldwide (excluding Asia), ALN-RSV01 is aimed at treating RSV infection in adults. With no other trials currently past phase 1, it's this RSV drug that holds all of the promise for Alnylam. Personally, I see downside potential for the stock given the rapid cash burn rate and the fact that a marketable drug still appears to be years away.

Craving more input? Start by adding Alnylam Pharmaceuticals to your free and personalized watchlist so you can keep up on the latest news with the company.

At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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