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Why 2 Big Nasdaq Stocks Are Missing the Market Rally

By Dan Caplinger - Feb 4, 2021 at 1:13PM

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Earnings season giveth, and earnings season taketh away.

The stock market has done well in 2021, and the Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC 0.00%) has been a big winner so far this year. Those good signs continued on Thursday morning, with the index up about two-thirds of a percent as of just before noon EST.

However, not every stock was able to join in on the market's gains. Both Qualcomm (QCOM -6.62%) and Cognizant Technology Solutions (CTSH -6.50%) posted substantial losses as investors assessed their latest financial results. The moves serve as a reminder that even in a healthy market environment, not every stock can end up a winner.

Qualcomm clocks down

Shares of Qualcomm lost almost 9% by midday on Thursday. The chipmaker and tech innovator's fiscal first-quarter financial report failed to inspire further confidence in the stock, which had already seen a massive run higher over the past year.

Semiconductor chip positioned on a motherboard.

Image source: Getty Images.

At first glance, Qualcomm's results would've seemed amazing to a typical investor. Revenue soared 62% from year-earlier levels, and adjusted net income more than doubled year over year. Adjusted earnings came in at $2.17 per share, up from just $0.99 in the corresponding quarter a year ago.

Moreover, Qualcomm expects the good times to continue. Fiscal second-quarter revenue should rise at a 46% pace, sending earnings higher by 88% on an adjusted basis. All those figures were favorable compared to what most of those following Qualcomm were looking to see.

Yet investors seem concerned about whether Qualcomm has come too far too quickly. The company has an extensive set of wireless technology patents that it uses in two ways: to build its own products and to license to other manufacturers. The 5G wireless network upgrade cycle is giving the industry a long-expected boost, and that explains much of the company's success. Yet some worry about the cyclical nature of the semiconductor industry, as well as ongoing challenges that could potentially produce manufacturing disruptions. That could create continued volatility in the stock price for a while to come.

Cognizant misses the mark

Elsewhere, Cognizant Technology Solutions saw its stock drop 6%. Here, the news wasn't quite as good, as the tech consulting giant fell short of expectations in its fourth-quarter financial report.

Cognizant's numbers reflected the struggles that it has seen recently. Fourth-quarter revenue fell 2% from year-ago levels, hurt primarily by a drop in sales of greater than 11% from its financial services customer segment. That came largely because of the loss of a European financial customer, to which Cognizant made a one-time payment before exiting their relationship. Growth from the healthcare and communications, media, and technology segments helped to offset some of the financial segment's declines.

Moreover, growth expectations weren't quite as strong as many had hoped. Cognizant sees full-year 2021 revenue climbing just 5.5% to 8.5%, and adjusted earnings of $3.90 to $4.02 per share would be level at best compared to where Cognizant's bottom line was two years ago.

Although Cognizant's stock price has risen considerably, its business has had trouble recovering from a ransomware attack early last year. If it can't demonstrate its ability to bounce back from that incident quickly, Cognizant might never return to its full potential.

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Stocks Mentioned

QUALCOMM Incorporated Stock Quote
QUALCOMM Incorporated
QCOM
$130.45 (-6.62%) $-9.24
Cognizant Technology Solutions Corporation Stock Quote
Cognizant Technology Solutions Corporation
CTSH
$70.23 (-6.50%) $-4.88
NASDAQ Composite Index (Price Return) Stock Quote
NASDAQ Composite Index (Price Return)
^IXIC
$11,984.52 (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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