The stock market had a mixed showing early today as it aimed to close out a momentous week that was chock-full of earnings reports and other market-moving news. Investors remain uncertain about the near-term future for stocks, as the massive rebound from the bear market lows has created a big debate about whether the worst is over or still ahead. As of 11 a.m. EDT on Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 1.96%) was down 5 points to 23,511. The S&P 500 (^GSPC 2.15%) inched higher by 4 points to 2,802, and the Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC 2.15%) gained 14 points to 8,509.
The current economic situation has created winners and losers, and they were evident among today's movers. J.C. Penney (JCPN.Q) is reportedly heading toward a likely bankruptcy filing in the near future, but Zoom Video Communications (ZM 2.40%) got a vote of confidence by being invited into an elite group of 100 top companies.
Curtains for Penney?
Shares of J.C. Penney dropped more than 12%, continuing a descent that has lopped 80% off the stock's value since early January. Even before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Penney was having substantial financial troubles, and it now appears that the retail store shutdowns that the outbreak has prompted could prove to be the last straw for the ailing department store chain.
Penney is reportedly talking with major U.S. banks in an effort to put together a financing package to continue to operate in the event that it files for bankruptcy. Obtaining what's known as debtor-in-possession financing is essential for those filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, since it gives the company a source of funds but protects lenders by giving that money the highest priority for repayment. Without that money, retailers wouldn't be able to pay for basic operational expenses, making it almost impossible to stay in business.
As recently as last week, it seemed that Penney might find an alternative to bankruptcy. The promise of regular financing seemed auspicious, even though it came at the same time Penney chose not to pay interest on existing debt.
It's highly unlikely that shareholders would receive anything if Penney declares bankruptcy. That's what investors seem prepared for today, with the stock priced in pennies already.
Zoom gets an offer it won't refuse
Elsewhere, shares of Zoom Video Communications jumped 4%. The company has already earned a lot of distinctions, but its latest will put it into a brand new category.
Stock exchange operator Nasdaq (NDAQ 2.60%) told investors that Zoom would become a component of its Nasdaq 100 Index as of the beginning of trading on Thursday, April 30. The move reflects Zoom's status as one of the 100 largest companies listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Zoom's entry comes at the expense of Willis Towers Watson, which will get taken out of the index at the same time.
Getting included in major stock indexes can be a rite of passage for companies. It means that institutional investors who want to track the performance of the index have to get exposure to the stock of its components. The forced buying among index-tracking investors often gives stocks a short-term boost.
Many investors worry that Zoom's ascent has come too far too fast. They look at its growth in users with skepticism about whether they'll keep using the platform once coronavirus-imposed lockdowns and stay-at-home measures end. Security issues are a concern, but there's also worry that new users taking advantage of free trials and other no-cost options won't stay on if they have to start paying for the service.
Nevertheless, with a market capitalization approaching $50 billion, Zoom has earned its entry to the index. Now, many investors will anticipate whether the tech stock could become part of the much larger S&P 500 Index in the near future.