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Nasdaq Powers Higher as Baidu Gains, Lam Gets a Lift

By Dan Caplinger – Jun 16, 2020 at 5:01PM

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The rise fell short of record highs but reflected greater optimism.

Tuesday was a good day for Wall Street, especially for the stocks within the Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC 0.00%). Many tech-related companies got positive moves from enthusiasm about the prospects for overall economic growth, while retail stocks benefited from favorable readings on the latest economic data on sales figures for the industry. Both the Composite and the Nasdaq 100 index finished higher by between 1.5% and 2%.

One company investors haven't heard much about lately is Baidu (BIDU 0.61%), but the Chinese internet search company got a push higher from interest in one of its major investment holdings. Meanwhile, in the semiconductor equipment sector, Lam Research (LRCX -2.40%) continued to gain ground as demand for chips remains robust.

Baidu benefits from a higher IQ

Shares of Baidu rose 5%, but most of the excitement wasn't about the company's core internet search business. Instead, the stock climbed because of its majority stake in streaming video company iQiyi (IQ -3.03%), which got some investment interest from another major player in the Chinese internet sector.

Baidu logo with a paw-print containing the "du" part of the word.

Image source: Baidu.

Tencent Holdings (TCEHY 3.24%) wants to make an investment in iQiyi, with the intent of creating a partnership between the nation's two largest players in streaming video. Tencent hopes that by taking a stake in iQiyi, it can tone down some of the intense competition between the two, potentially reducing the amount it has to pay for content.

iQiyi shares jumped 26% on the news, but Baidu also stands to benefit. Baidu has an economic interest in iQiyi that's greater than 50%, and because of special voting rights, it has more than 90% control over corporate decisions. That essentially gives Baidu veto power over any potential deal between Tencent and iQiyi.

Baidu stock has languished for years, so signs of its iQiyi investment going well are welcome. What happens next is up to Baidu and Tencent, but investors are hopeful that this could mean the beginning of a more meaningful turnaround for the Chinese internet search giant.

An upgrade for Lam

Lam Research also picked up around 5% on the day, helping to lift the Nasdaq 100. The maker of semiconductor processing equipment got favorable comments from stock analysts today, making investors more confident about the shares.

Morgan Stanley boosted its rating on Lam Research from equal weight to overweight, and raised its share-price target by more than $80 to $334 per share. The analysts at Morgan Stanley like the fact that Lam has greater exposure to the memory chip market, and they believe that puts Lam in a better position than rival NVIDIA (NVDA -2.30%) despite the latter's greater visibility among most investors. Indeed, NVIDIA got downgraded from overweight to equal weight for the same reason.

The move toward greater adoption of 5G wireless technology promises to be a catalyst for semiconductor stocks, and that should help Lam as well. In particular, its capabilities in helping customers produce NAND flash memory give Lam a competitive advantage.

Semiconductor stocks have already seen big gains, but Lam has further to rise before it regains all the ground it has lost recently. If it can keep up its momentum, Lam will be a stock to remember.

Dan Caplinger has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Baidu, Lam Research, NVIDIA, and Tencent Holdings. The Motley Fool recommends iQiyi. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Baidu, Inc. Stock Quote
Baidu, Inc.
$119.47 (0.61%) $0.72
Lam Research Corporation Stock Quote
Lam Research Corporation
$371.44 (-2.40%) $-9.12
NASDAQ Composite Index (Price Return) Stock Quote
NASDAQ Composite Index (Price Return)
$10,867.93 (0.00%) $0.00
NVIDIA Corporation Stock Quote
NVIDIA Corporation
$122.28 (-2.30%) $-2.88
Tencent Holdings Limited Stock Quote
Tencent Holdings Limited
$36.00 (3.24%) $1.13
iQIYI, Inc. Stock Quote
iQIYI, Inc.
$2.88 (-3.03%) $0.09

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

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