Stocks were mixed on Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI -0.09%) falling slightly as the S&P 500 (^GSPC 0.01%) finished higher by less than 0.25%.

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Financial stocks saw some of the heaviest trading, and the popular Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLF 0.18%) bucked its recent trend by outperforming the broader market with a 0.3% increase. Gold prices rose, and so the bullish bet on the precious metal, Direxion Daily Junior Gold Miners Bull 3X ETF (JNUG 2.64%), jumped 6% and recovered some of its year-to-date losses.

As for individual stocks, NVIDIA (NVDA 1.80%) and Fossil Group (FOSL 5.92%) attracted heavy investor interest following their quarterly earnings reports.

Outside the stock exchange in New York.

Image source: Getty Images.

NVIDIA's accelerating sales gains

Expectations were high heading into NVIDIA's report, yet the chip specialist still managed to trounce them. Fiscal first-quarter revenue jumped 48% thanks in part to a near-tripling of its data center business. NVIDIA also managed strong growth in its core gaming segment and in the fast-growing auto division that's home to autonomous car driving technologies. Earnings outpaced sales growth as both gross and operating margins expanded, allowing non-GAAP net income to double to $533 million.

A processor on a circuit board.

Image source: Getty Images.

Executives focused their comments on the relatively small but attractive segments that appear set to power strong gains for NVIDIA's high-performance processors. "The AI revolution is moving fast and continuing to accelerate," CEO Jensen Huang said in a press release. "One industry after another is awakening to the power of GPU deep learning and AI, the most important technology force of our time," Huang added.

The company's second-quarter forecast called for sales to rise 36% to $1.95 billion, which edged past consensus estimates targeting $1.89 billion of revenue. With the stock's nearly 18% jump today, shares are now priced at over 45 times the past year's earnings. Yet NVIDIA continues to make a strong case for its premium valuation by putting up impressive operating results in a competitive industry.

Fossil's first-quarter loss

Fossil shares dove 20% after the watchmaker announced surprisingly weak quarterly results. Worldwide sales fell 12% as its industry continued to find itself victim to disruption from the tech world.

A smartwatch in use.

Image source: Getty Images.

Demand for wearable tech timepieces, a tiny part of its business, surged. But that expansion wasn't nearly enough to offset plunging demand for Fossil's traditional products. Overall, watch sales fell 9% to push comparable sales down 11%. The company said it endured declines in all of its product categories and across all of its sales regions. Gross profit margin fell by 3 percentage points to 49.8%. Due to lower sales, Fossil's operating earnings fell from $14.4 million to a loss of $45.3 million.

While admitting challenges, management's comments didn't seem to squarely address the magnitude of the disruption the retailer now faces. "Our results for the first quarter ... continue to reflect a challenging retail environment and a watch category undergoing significant change," CEO Kosta Kartsotis said in a press release.

Kartsotis and his team are "very excited about the next generation of products" they are preparing for release through the remainder of the year. However, the company lowered its 2017 sales forecast to a decline that ranges from 6% to 1.5% from the previous target of between a 6.5% slump and flat. Operating margin should be slightly better than initially feared, but that didn't cheer investors, given the prospect for further painful retailing losses ahead.