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Stocks Fall as Tech Earnings Paint a Mixed Picture After Hours

By Dan Caplinger – Nov 17, 2021 at 5:24PM

Key Points

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After-hours moves for major tech stocks left some investors confused.

The stock market gave up ground on Wednesday, although losses weren't all that severe. Declines in the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI -0.48%), the S&P 500 (^GSPC 1.34%), and the Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC 2.90%) were all well below 1%, as investors didn't seem to reverse their overall optimistic views but rather simply appeared ready for a break after pushing toward all-time highs recently.

Index

Daily Percentage Change

Daily Point Change

Dow

(0.58%)

(211)

S&P 500

(0.26%)

(12)

Nasdaq

(0.33%)

(52)

Data source: Yahoo! Finance.

Earnings reports after the bell centered on a couple of key tech stocks. Nvidia (NVDA 1.80%) posted impressive gains after its report, but Cisco Systems (CSCO 1.44%) wasn't as fortunate, giving up ground as shareholders assessed its latest results. Below, we'll look more closely at both companies.

Big gains for Nvidia

Shares of Nvidia picked up almost 4% in after-hours trading on Wednesday. The semiconductor chip giant's latest financial results sustained the positive momentum that the company has built up over the past year and a half.

Person holding tablet in a data center room.

Image source: Getty Images.

Nvidia's third-quarter results included some impressive growth figures. Revenue set a new record of $7.1 billion, rising 50% from year-ago levels. The company got a dual push from key segments, including 55% revenue growth in its data center unit and a 42% advance in video gaming chip revenue. Adjusted earnings of $1.17 per share easily topped expectations and were higher by 60% year over year.

Just about everything went right for Nvidia. Gross margin remained strong, and the company managed to clamp down on cost increases in a way that preserved its bottom-line growth. Moreover, Nvidia's guidance for the fourth quarter also impressed investors, with an outlook for sales of $7.4 billion and continued strength in margin figures.

Nvidia has identified plenty of growth drivers, including artificial intelligence, high-performance networking, robotics, and various autonomous driving functions. Any of those areas could provide impressive gains, and together, they make Nvidia a force to be reckoned with.

Cisco deals with challenges

Elsewhere, shares of Cisco Systems dropped about 4% after hours. The networking pioneer faced a tough environment, and despite efforts to overcome its challenges, Cisco wasn't able to give as upbeat an assessment of its future prospects as investors had hoped to see.

Cisco's headline numbers showed sluggish gains. Revenue growth was somewhat muted in the fiscal first quarter, with year-over-year sales gains limited to 8%. Similarly, adjusted net income and earnings of $0.82 per share were up by the same single-digit percentage. Cisco got better performance in product sales, but its service revenue barely moved higher at all year over year. Geographically, Cisco was strongest overseas, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.

Cisco had success with some of its segments, most notably its "internet for the future" division. However, it saw a 7% drop in revenue from its hybrid work segment, showing the impact of returning to work for many workers.

Moreover, Cisco doesn't see growth picking up anytime soon. Fiscal second-quarter projections called for year-over-year sales gains of 4.5% to 6.5%, with full-year fiscal 2022 revenue rising just 5% to 7%. Moreover, full-year earnings guidance of $3.38 to $3.45 per share didn't indicate much growth, although it did signal that Cisco's shares could be a reasonable value compared to the overall market.

Cisco has ambitious long-term targets, but it hasn't demonstrated how it will get there. Until near-term results improve, investors will likely remain skeptical about Cisco's prospects.

Dan Caplinger has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Nvidia. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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