Stocks continued to move higher on Wednesday, but the Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC -2.77%) played the unusual role of follower on the day. The Nasdaq was up just a tiny fraction of a percent as of 1 p.m. EDT, lagging behind the roughly half-percent gains in other major market benchmarks.

Earnings season is in full swing now, and some of the biggest companies in the economy are reporting their latest results. For Netflix (NFLX -1.35%), the reception after its third-quarter financial report wasn't as good as many had hoped. But for many, the real test will come when Tesla (TSLA -3.14%) offers its latest perspective on its business after the regular trading session ends on Wednesday. Below, we'll look at both stocks and what could lie ahead.

Netflix loses some momentum

Shares of Netflix were down almost 3% early Wednesday afternoon. The streaming pioneer managed to deliver growth in its third-quarter results, but some are still concerned about whether there'll be enough future catalysts to keep up the momentum that has sent it to all-time record highs recently.

Netflix's numbers showed both the challenges it has faced during the COVID-19 pandemic and the gains it has managed to achieve more recently. Revenue came in at $7.48 billion for the quarter, up 16% year over year. Net income almost doubled to $1.45 billion, producing earnings of $3.19 per share. Netflix brought in 4.38 million new streaming memberships worldwide during the quarter, marking just a 9% gain from a year ago.

Four people on a couch in the glow of a television.

Image source: Getty Images.

Moreover, Netflix's forecast for the fourth quarter predicted a big hit to earnings. Although it sees revenue climbing at a 16% year-over-year pace, Netflix projected net income of just $365 million, or $0.80 per share. The company hopes to see net subscriber growth almost double to 8.5 million in the last three months of the year.

Investors have to be pleased with the efforts that Netflix has made in building a truly global business, as the success of its latest hit Squid Game proves. With streaming in the U.S. market getting close to the saturation point, international customers will be increasingly important for Netflix's future.

What to expect from Tesla

Elsewhere, shares of Tesla were up slightly, inching ever closer to the all-time high the stock set back in February. Investors in the EV automaker hope that tonight's earnings release will be the catalyst to push Tesla's stock over the top and into uncharted territory.

We've already seen signs of how well Tesla's business performed in the third quarter. The automaker delivered more than 241,000 vehicles from July to September 2021, 73% higher than it did in the corresponding period in 2020. That sent its trailing delivery count above the 800,000 mark, and it signaled continued strong demand for its models.

The unanswered question, though, is whether Tesla had to pay up in order to overcome supply chain issues to meet its delivery targets. Higher costs could eat into profits, and that could draw criticism from shareholders who were patient in waiting for Tesla to make the transition to a positive bottom line.

If Tesla scales up its expectations for the remainder of 2021, that could prompt another push higher for the soaring stock. That's what many investors would like to see, and they'll find out just hours from now whether their wishes will come true.