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Why Tesla and Peloton Interactive Led the Nasdaq Lower Wednesday

By Dan Caplinger - Feb 17, 2021 at 2:03PM

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Highfliers across the stock market took some hits.

The Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC 0.00%) has led the broader stock market higher for nearly a full year since the coronavirus bear market. On Wednesday, the Nasdaq led the broader market lower, falling almost 1% as of 1:30 p.m. EST even as other stock benchmarks were mixed.

Investors have seen extraordinarily good returns from individual Nasdaq stocks. Two of the biggest standouts have been electric vehicle giant Tesla (TSLA 4.53%) and connected fitness equipment manufacturer Peloton Interactive (PTON 4.76%), but today, the two high-flying growth stocks  were headed lower. Below, we'll take a closer look at what was sending Tesla and Peloton into the red on Wednesday.

Driving lower

Shares of Tesla were down about 2% on Wednesday afternoon, but that reflected a partial recovery from its worst levels of the day. Earlier in the morning, Tesla has been off more than 4% and falling to prices it hadn't seen since the beginning of January.

Four Tesla vehicles on a gravel lot in a mountain landscape.

Image source: Tesla.

The move came despite several recent pieces of positive news. Tesla is expected to open a manufacturing facility in India, according to a Tuesday Reuters report, which will open up a huge potential market for the electric-car maker. In addition, ARK Invest CEO and Chief Investment Officer Cathie Wood is continuing to add to positions in her lineup of actively managed ETFs, speculating that Tesla could add a ride-hailing service to its list of aspirations.

Meanwhile, another Elon Musk-led company grabbed headlines on Wednesday. Privately held SpaceX reportedly completed a funding round at just under $420 per share, raising $850 million and establishing a value of $72 billion on the space exploration company. Although some have argued that Tesla could eventually join forces with other Musk-led businesses, others fear that the Tesla CEO could lose focus if he divides his time too much among his various interests.

Even a more extensive decline would still leave Tesla shareholders with plenty of gains over the past year. Nevertheless, with such staunch supporters for the stock, bargain hunters shouldn't count on being able to pick up Tesla stock on the cheap.

Losing the race

Elsewhere, shares of Peloton Interactive were down more than 7%. The move came amid a broader move lower for stay-at-home stocks, driven in part by falling COVID-19 case counts and the possibility of a return to more normal conditions in the coming year.

Yet Wall Street analysts still have hopes that Peloton will remain a successful stock. Analysts at Argus kept their buy recommendation on Peloton, boosting their share price by $40 per share to a new level of $180. As Argus sees it, the stationary bike maker is still seeing unprecedented demand, and even as the vaccine rollout progresses, gyms could still be among the last places that open up fully and return to pre-pandemic conditions.

Today, though, investors seem to be thinking twice about sky-high valuations. Even Argus expects that Peloton will make just $0.90 per share in fiscal 2022. That puts the stock at 150 times forward earnings even after today's drop.

Peloton has had the ride of a lifetime, but some investors want to see what happens down the road. If the fitness equipment company can fulfill orders more effectively and keep capturing rising demand, then its stock could bounce back from Wednesday's setback.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the "official" recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We're motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.

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Stocks Mentioned

Tesla, Inc. Stock Quote
Tesla, Inc.
$737.12 (4.53%) $31.91
NASDAQ Composite Index (Price Return) Stock Quote
NASDAQ Composite Index (Price Return)
$11,232.19 (0.00%) $0.00
Peloton Interactive, Inc. Stock Quote
Peloton Interactive, Inc.
$11.01 (4.76%) $0.50

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

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