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The Nasdaq Is Record-Bound, and These 2 Stocks Are Leading the Way

By Dan Caplinger – Updated Aug 23, 2021 at 1:54PM

Key Points

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Find out what's helping lift the market Monday.

The stock market carried forward its upward momentum into the new week on Monday, and investors tracking the Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC) saw outsize gains. The Nasdaq was up 1.5% as of 12:15 p.m. EDT, reaching all-time record levels in the process.

Plenty of stocks have benefited from the big bull run in the Nasdaq since March 2020, but today a couple of companies that many investors have neglected to notice came to the forefront. Xilinx (XLNX) saw sizable gains as investors weigh the odds of a key merger going through, while Astra Space (ASTR -6.66%) responded favorably to merger and acquisition activity elsewhere in the space industry.

Xilinx looks for closure

Shares of Xilinx were up nearly 6% on Monday at midday. The maker of programmable gate arrays has had a pending deal with Advanced Micro Devices (AMD -1.81%), but investors have had to be patient as the semiconductor company works its way through regulatory hurdles.

Person wearing mask and gloves holding semiconductor chip.

Image source: Getty Images.

In late 2020, AMD agreed to buy Xilinx in an all-stock deal, with Xilinx shareholders receiving 1.7234 shares of AMD for every Xilinx share they own. With AMD shares currently trading at around $107.50, that'd imply an appropriate price for Xilinx stock would be around $185 per share.

However, despite assurances from AMD CEO Lisa Su that the takeover is still on track, the current discount of nearly 20% is unusually wide for an M&A stock. Investors appear unconvinced that Xilinx and AMD will successfully navigate the Chinese regulatory review process, even though reports have suggested that China would likely approve the combination.

Monday's announcement from Analog Devices that it had received antitrust clearance for its acquisition of Maxim Integrated Products raised hopes that Xilinx and AMD will get the same treatment. Nevertheless, it appears investors won't close the gap entirely until the combination is a done deal.

Astra heads to the stars

Elsewhere, shares of Astra Space climbed 13%. The space company got some good news and also benefited from M&A activity elsewhere in the industry.

Astra's biggest news came over the weekend, as CEO Chris Kemp set expectations for a launch from its spaceport facility in Kodiak, Alaska. Later this week, Astra hopes to launch its first orbital payload as a proof of concept that it can successfully serve the U.S. government in a longer-term mission.

Also raising awareness of the importance of commercial launch facilities was news that rival Virgin Orbit will go public through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). Virgin Orbit inked a deal with NextGen Acquisition II to go public, obtaining additional financing from Boeing. Many investors have been waiting impatiently for Virgin Orbit stock to be available to investors, and the attention to the industry has often bled over to help other space stocks as well.

Astra Space's stock has been volatile, doubling from its SPAC price in early 2021 before falling as low as $8 per share. Now, though, more space companies are demonstrating the viability of their business models, and that could help Astra as it moves forward with launch plans in the near future.

Dan Caplinger owns shares of Boeing. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Advanced Micro Devices. The Motley Fool recommends Xilinx. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Stocks Mentioned

Xilinx Stock Quote
Xilinx
XLNX
NASDAQ Composite Index (Price Return) Stock Quote
NASDAQ Composite Index (Price Return)
^IXIC
$11,461.50 (%)
Advanced Micro Devices Stock Quote
Advanced Micro Devices
AMD
$73.62 (-1.81%) $-1.36
Astra Space Stock Quote
Astra Space
ASTR
$0.50 (-6.66%) $0.04

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

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