This week has been a brutal one for the stock market broadly, and it's been especially painful for investors in the Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX:^IXIC). Many Nasdaq stocks have found themselves at the epicenter of a vicious market rotation away from cutting-edge innovative technology stocks toward older-economy companies, and it looked like the index would suffer more losses early in the trading session. But stocks regained their footing, and by 2:30 p.m. EST, the Nasdaq was up more than 1%.

Even so, many of the high-growth stocks  that led the Nasdaq higher in 2020 still had to deal with losses. Instead, some of the recent laggards in the Nasdaq were notable gainers on Friday. In particular, both Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) and Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) rose substantially, helping to pull the overall index higher.

Don't count the old folks out just yet

It wasn't too long ago that many investors were just about to say that older tech companies like Cisco and Intel simply didn't have very good prospects for future stock performance. Popular innovation-focused investor Cathie Wood, who managed the ARK Invest family of funds to triple-digit percentage returns in 2020, singled out Intel as having lost its way as other microprocessor chip manufacturers passed its technology by. Meanwhile, Cisco had posted relatively weak results in recent weeks, with its core network infrastructure business slowed by pandemic-related issues.

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Image source: Getty Images.

Moreover, both Cisco and Intel faced huge competitive pressures. For Cisco, the dominance of Zoom Video Communications (NASDAQ:ZM) and its video-conferencing platform showed just how badly Cisco had failed to execute on a huge opportunity with its Webex software. Smaller, nimbler companies were also finding ways to beat Cisco on the networking front. Similarly, both Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD) and NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA) have come a long way toward dethroning Intel from its once-impregnable status atop the chip industry.

Looking up

But these tech giants got some favorable news that lifted shareholders' spirits. For Cisco, a favorable call from stock analysts at J.P. Morgan was just what the doctor ordered. The Wall Street financial stalwart upgraded Cisco stock from neutral to overweight and boosted its price target by 10% to $55 per share. Analysts believe that Cisco's shares are cheaply priced, and the tech giant is working hard to make a larger transition toward subscription-based services to generate recurring revenue. The just-completed acquisition of Acacia Communications should also put Cisco in a better position to compete in the fast-growing optical communications industry as well.

Intel climbed in unison with most semiconductor stocks on Friday. The ongoing shortage of chips has given chipmakers a big push, and even considering Intel's challenges, investors like the supply and demand tailwinds that the industry is giving the company right now. The valuation also looks more favorable than that of some competing stocks.

Be prepared for ongoing volatility

At times today, it looked as though the Nasdaq would be prone to a large correction or even a crash. However, even with a number of volatile high-growth companies, the Nasdaq also has some solid stalwarts that are ready to provide some reassurance even in the toughest of times.

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.