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Stock Market News: Berkshire Shareholders Mob Omaha; Arista's Outlook Gets Cloudy

By Dan Caplinger – May 3, 2019 at 10:58AM

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The stock market jumped Friday on strong jobs numbers.

The stock market climbed on Friday morning, responding favorably to news that the employment picture last month remained bright. The U.S. economy produced 263,000 jobs in April, according to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, leaving the unemployment rate at a multidecade low of 3.6%. As of 11:45 a.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI -1.62%) was up 148 points to 26,455. The S&P 500 (^GSPC -1.72%) climbed 22 points to 2,940, and the Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC -1.80%) was higher by 94 points to 8,131.

Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A -0.22%) (BRK.B -0.28%) didn't see a big move in its share price on Friday, but the Warren Buffett-led behemoth is getting a lot of attention as it prepares for its annual shareholder meeting in Omaha this weekend. Meanwhile, growth has been readily available and impressive in the red-hot cloud computing industry, but Arista Networks (ANET -2.29%) gave investors a less-than-rosy outlook that has some questioning whether its leadership role in the cloud is in danger.

A capitalist pilgrimage to Nebraska

Every publicly traded company has a shareholder meeting, but there's none that can compare to the show that Berkshire Hathaway puts on every year. Thousands of people converge on the company's home city of Omaha to attend the event, which is now held in a local arena with a stated capacity of 17,560.

Warren Buffett, with a person in the background.

Warren Buffett. Image source: The Motley Fool.

Beginning at around 9:15 a.m. CDT on Saturday, Buffett and co-chair Charlie Munger will answer questions from shareholders, both as presented by prominent financial journalists and directly from attendees on the floor. With an introductory movie and a short formal meeting for handling required corporate business, the meeting will be an all-day affair.

But there's more for shareholders to do than just listen to two investing legends. An exhibit hall full of Berkshire-owned companies will sell their wares at discount prices to investors, showing firsthand that owning shares of stock means owning interests in actual businesses. Other special events will give shareholders the chance to engage in networking and trade stories about themselves, Berkshire, and Buffett.

Investors can expect discussions about the company's latest results, as well as recently announced purchases of shares of and other investments. Yet for many, the value of the annual meeting comes just from being part of the Berkshire experience, making it another unique aspect of having a stake in Buffett's business.

Arista falls out of the cloud

Meanwhile, shares of Arista Networks plunged 15% in the aftermath of the release of its first-quarter earnings report. The company's performance to begin 2019 was typically strong, featuring 26% growth in sales that helped send profit higher by 40% compared to year-earlier levels.

However, where Arista ran into problems was with its outlook. The provider of cloud networking solutions said that it's seen weaker order activity over the past month, with one particularly important customer having put orders entirely on hold for the second quarter of 2019. That prompted Arista to cut its expected sales growth rate for the second quarter to just 15% to 17% -- a huge slowdown that investors weren't at all prepared for.

The news was particularly surprising because of where the networking industry currently stands. The development of 400-gigabit Ethernet architecture has presented a huge opportunity for Arista to capture upgrade business as enterprise customers improve their existing capacity, and the company in particular has moved aggressively to come out with networking products tailored for 400G.

Yet if the slowdown in Arista's orders persists, it could signal a major shift in cloud demand. That has potential ramifications throughout the industry, and investors will need to keep an eye on both Arista and its peers to see how things develop.

Dan Caplinger owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway (B shares). The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Arista Networks and Berkshire Hathaway (B shares). The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Stock Quote
Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
$404,485.25 (-0.22%) $-889.76
Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Stock Quote
Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
$267.77 (-0.28%) $0.74
Arista Networks, Inc. Stock Quote
Arista Networks, Inc.
$109.97 (-2.29%) $-2.58
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return) Stock Quote
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return)
$29,590.41 (-1.62%) $-486.27
S&P 500 Index - Price Return (USD) Stock Quote
S&P 500 Index - Price Return (USD)
$3,693.23 (-1.72%) $-64.76
NASDAQ Composite Index (Price Return) Stock Quote
NASDAQ Composite Index (Price Return)
$10,867.93 (-1.80%) $-198.88

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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