The stock market's volatility continued on Thursday, and the Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC 3.33%) felt the brunt of the damage. As of 1:45 p.m. EST, the Nasdaq was down more than 2.5%, which was the worst performance of any of the major U.S. stock market benchmarks. Investors seemed nervous that many of the companies whose shares have soared in the bull market over the past year could be primed for a pullback.
Amid high-profile tech stocks with recurring revenue models, DocuSign (DOCU 6.72%) gave back some of its recent gains. First, though, let's look more closely at the declines in shares of newly public Airbnb (ABNB 5.42%), which is set to announce its earnings results after the close of the regular trading session Thursday afternoon.
Will Airbnb deliver the goods in its first earnings report?
Shares of Airbnb were down 8% on Thursday afternoon, extending a recent pullback that stretches over the past two weeks. From its high price of around $220 per share, the stock of the vacation rental website are down more than 16%. Yet they're still higher than even their loftiest prices on its first day of trading at its December IPO.
Investors have been anticipating the company's first financial release as a publicly traded stock for quite a while now. Expectations are high, especially because the consensus across the travel industry has been that the rollout of coronavirus vaccines should allow life to get back to normal over the course of 2021. As people finally feel safe taking vacations again, it should lead to a release of pent-up demand that Airbnb and other travel companies can take advantage of to accelerate their sales growth.
Yet in many ways, the earnings report won't say much about what Airbnb's future looks like. It'll therefore be necessary to look not just at the numbers but also at management's forecasts about how quickly Airbnb can bounce back from the lost travel year of 2020. You'll also want to look at whether Airbnb could actually lose some ground in a full recovery, as some travelers have felt more comfortable during the pandemic getting single-family homes via Airbnb than using traditional hotels.
IPO hype inevitably gives way to reality, but that doesn't mean that reality has to be harsh. Airbnb has a lot of promise, and while it has the marked-up stock price to go along with it, the travel company could deliver solid returns from here over the long haul.
Elsewhere, shares of DocuSign dropped 6%, roughly in line with many other companies in the red-hot software-as-a-service arena. The electronic signature specialist isn't due to release its own earnings until mid-March, but investors are growing concerned about DocuSign and other SaaS stocks having potentially gotten ahead of themselves.
Few investors doubt that DocuSign has a lot of growth ahead of it. Electronic signatures became a necessity during the pandemic, but even once people are free to go out again, that doesn't mean they'll be in any hurry to rush to an office to sign dozens and dozens of pages of documents. Customers will demand the convenience of DocuSign, and that should keep the clients it has picked up over the past year renewing their subscriptions and providing recurring revenue.
Moreover, DocuSign is looking at some promising other opportunities. The company's Agreement Cloud is intended not just to store signatures but also to ensure easy document storage and retrieval, as well as monitor necessary follow-up contracts and other documents. It's a natural add-on for electronic signature clients, and it promises to speed up negotiations and deals between businesses enormously.
Be ready for volatility
After such a huge gain for the Nasdaq in 2020, it's only natural that the index would hit some rough patches. By being ready to buy opportunistically in a downturn, you'll increase your chances of grabbing shares of your favorite Nasdaq stocks at an attractive valuation compared to where they were in recent days and weeks.