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Stock Market News Today: Sept. 23, 2019

By Timothy Green – Sep 23, 2019 at 1:54PM

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Micron is boosted by an optimistic analyst, and Slack slumps as its guidance is critiqued.

The stock market had eked out a small gain by Monday afternoon, recovering from morning losses. This may be a case of "no news is good news," as there were no new trade war developments to roil the market.

Index

Change at 1:10 p.m. EDT

Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI -0.43%)

0.10%

S&P 500 (^GSPC -0.21%)

0.08%

Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC 0.00%)

0.05%

Data source: Yahoo! Finance.

Outpacing the market on Monday was memory chip manufacturer Micron (MU 3.48%) following some optimistic analyst commentary. Heading lower was Slack (WORK), which was hit by an analyst warning regarding its guidance.

Is this time different for Micron?

The market for memory chips is cyclical, and brutal downturns are standard fare. In the past, memory chip manufacturer Micron has suffered through periods of losses as supply outpaced demand. Another downturn is currently underway, but the company has remained profitable so far.

Micron will report its fiscal fourth-quarter results on Thursday, and Credit Suisse analyst John Pitzer thinks the company's results and guidance will confirm that the cycle bottom has been reached without any red ink being spilled. Credit Suisse maintained an outperform rating and a $90 price target on the stock on Monday, with its positive commentary helping to drive shares 2% higher by 1:10 p.m. EDT.

A Micron facility.

Image source: Micron.

While Pitzer is optimistic that the worst is behind Micron, there are plenty of wildcards that could prolong the current downturn. An escalating U.S.-China trade war and a potential recession create a lot of uncertainty; the smartphone market is still in a funk; and the commercial PC refresh cycle that has been driving PC sales will eventually come to an end.

Micron stock isn't exactly depressed -- shares are close to their 52-week high after rallying over the past few months. If Credit Suisse's optimism turns out to be misplaced, investors could be in for a rough ride.

Slack's guidance draws analyst concern

Shares of software-as-a-service provider Slack tumbled after the company's quarterly report earlier this month. Slack beat expectations, but its guidance called for larger-than-expected losses and a growth slowdown.

Analyst Mark Moerdler of Bernstein maintained his "market perform" rating and his $28 price target on Monday, but he raised concerns about Slack's guidance. Either Slack's growth rate is set to slow dramatically, or the company is being conservative in an effort to beat expectations. Playing the earnings expectations game could become a problem after a few quarters if competition really does drive down the growth rate.

Bernstein's warning contributed to a rough day for Slack on Monday. The stock was down 5.8% at 1:10 p.m. EDT.

Slack is now valued around $13 billion, more than 20 times the company's guidance for full-year revenue. Even on an adjusted basis, Slack's losses are big relative to revenue -- non-GAAP net loss was $51 million in the second quarter alone. Slack will probably need to be handily beating expectations each quarter to maintain its nosebleed valuation.

Slack's growth has been impressive so far. Whether it remains impressive enough to keep investors happy remains to be seen.

Timothy Green has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Slack Technologies. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Micron Technology, Inc. Stock Quote
Micron Technology, Inc.
MU
$50.58 (3.48%) $1.70
Slack Technologies, Inc. Stock Quote
Slack Technologies, Inc.
WORK
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return) Stock Quote
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return)
^DJI
$29,134.99 (-0.43%) $-125.82
S&P 500 Index - Price Return (USD) Stock Quote
S&P 500 Index - Price Return (USD)
^GSPC
$3,647.29 (-0.21%) $-7.75
NASDAQ Composite Index (Price Return) Stock Quote
NASDAQ Composite Index (Price Return)
^IXIC
$10,802.92 (0.00%) $0.00

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

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