The stock market continued to gain ground at midday on Thursday, and the Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX:^IXIC) participated in the modest rally. Slightly before noon EDT, the index was up just over half a percent, as was the Nasdaq 100 Index of top stocks on the exchange. There's been rising enthusiasm lately about the prospects for the U.S. economy to escape the full brunt of what many economists have feared from the fallout from coronavirus-inspired shutdowns. Today's move continued the upward momentum from that newfound optimism.
Also helping to keep stocks moving forward was good news from several individual stocks. Workday (NASDAQ:WDAY) and Alexion Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ALXN) rose for different reasons, but their gains were among the leaders in the Nasdaq 100 and showed the broad-based support that the rally has had recently.
Working for a living
Shares of Workday rose 8% at midday on Thursday. The cloud-based human resources and finance enterprise application provider reported first-quarter financial results that showed continued growth, albeit over reduced expectations from investors.
Workday's revenue for the first quarter was up 23% from year-ago levels, topping the $1 billion mark. Subscription-based revenue rose at a faster 26% clip. Although Workday continued to lose money, its per-share losses were largely in line with last year's results on an adjusted basis, and operating cash flow improved from prior-year levels.
Investors were pleased to see not only that Workday's retention among existing customers was good but also that it picked up some major new customers as well, including several members of the Fortune 500 company list. Workday CEO Aneel Bhusri celebrated his own workforce's ability to work remotely to keep delivering advanced features on its cloud platform for the benefit of enterprise clients.
Even with a slight pullback in full-year revenue projections, Workday still gave investors what they wanted to hear. The power of the cloud has become clearer during the coronavirus crisis, and shareholders expect Workday to keep delivering strong results.
Alexion hopes for a win
Shares of Alexion Pharmaceuticals rose 7% at midday Thursday. The upward move reflected hopes among investors that a shadow hanging over the stock might soon lift.
Alexion has been engaged in a court battle with Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) over the rights to the immunosuppressant Soliris, which is Alexion's top-selling drug. Amgen is looking to develop a biosimilar version of Soliris, which would threaten that revenue.
Late yesterday, filings with the patent court that's hearing the case indicated that Alexion and Amgen had reached a settlement in principle. Although the specific terms weren't included in the court documents, investors were pleased at the idea that Alexion might have evaded the threat of a sizable loss of revenue.
Alexion shareholders won't know for sure until details become available. For now, though, optimism about a resolution has investors pleased with the biotech stock.