Tustin-based drug developer Peregrine Pharmaceuticals Inc.’s stock plummeted today after a website published a critical story about its lead drug candidate.

Investors sent Peregrine shares down 17% in midday New York trading, to a market value of about $240 million.

Peregrine shares are still up some 132% since the start of 2012.

Seeking Alpha published a story today that asserted that clinical trial results for Peregrine’s bavituximab drug candidate – a big factor in Peregrine’s rise – are “overhyped” and “inconclusive.”

The report was written by an unidentified analyst using the name “Apsara Biotechnology Research” who said he had a short position in Peregrine.

Peregrine’s shares had been rising steadily in recent weeks on positive indicators from the company on bavituximab, its lead drug candidate.