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Why 2 Tech Stocks Soared While 2 Retail Stocks Got Crushed After Hours Tuesday

By Dan Caplinger – Nov 23, 2021 at 6:20PM

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The market had mixed results during the regular session.

The stock market was once again mixed on Tuesday, as different segments of the market put in disparate performances. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI -0.10%) and S&P 500 (^GSPC -0.61%) were both solidly higher, but the Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC) fell again, albeit finishing with a smaller loss than its worst levels of the day.


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Data source: Yahoo! Finance.

Investors immediately concluded that the stock market was going through a rotation away from tech stocks toward companies with more exposure to the cyclical economy. Yet after-hours stock moves seemed to contradict that conclusion. Even as two tech companies -- HP (HPQ -2.42%) and Pure Storage (PSTG -1.54%) -- soared, major retailers Nordstrom (JWN -8.34%) and Gap (GPS -4.59%) were sharply lower. You'll find the details below.

Three people looking at screens with charts and news.

Image source: Getty Images.

Techs gain

HP's stock rose 8% after hours, while Pure Storage saw a 9% rise. Both companies had strong financial results announced in the late afternoon that pointed to continued success.

For HP, fiscal fourth-quarter numbers included a 9% rise  in revenue from year-earlier levels. Adjusted net income jumped 29% year over year, and a massive reduction in share count due to stock buybacks pushed earnings per share higher by 52% to $3.79, topping expectations. Commercial PC sales were particularly strong, helping to offset weakness in consumer PC sales and HP's printer business. HP expects fiscal 2022 to be strong as well.

Pure Storage's growth was even more impressive . Total revenue jumped 37% year over year on a 30% rise in subscription services annual recurring revenue, and Pure Storage boosted its full-year sales target as a result. Net losses narrowed, as CEO Charles Giancarlo cited continued strong demand for data services as enterprise customers go through their ongoing digital transformation efforts.

Retail feels the pain

On the retail stock  side of the coin, Gap and Nordstrom were hit hard. Gap's stock fell 15% after hours, while Nordstrom plunged 22%.

Gap's revenue was 1% lower than it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic in the third quarter of 2019, with  comparable sales rising 5%. Adjusted earnings were down by half from where they were two years ago. CEO Sonia Syngal described supply chain headwinds as "acute" in affecting Gap's ability to satisfy strong customer demand. Despite strength from the Athleta athletic apparel unit and continued resilience from Old Navy, Banana Republic and the company's namesake Gap store units stayed under pressure. Moreover, Gap sees major challenges in meeting delivery expectations for customers, which will likely result in substantial lost sales and higher freight expenses.

For Nordstrom, the news was similarly poor. Revenue was up 18% compared to year-ago levels but down 1% from the third quarter of 2019. The off-price Nordstrom Rack concept saw particularly weak results, with sales falling 8% from where they were two years ago. Digital sales were down substantially year over year, and rising inventory levels and overhead expenses showed the pressure Nordstrom is under heading into the key holiday season.

It's always tempting, when various sectors of the stock market show signs of a trend, to conclude that a market rotation means that every company in a given industry will perform the same way. Yet today's earnings results show that some tech stocks can buck a downtrend among high-growth stocks, while even as the economy looks ready to improve, retail stocks can still struggle amid ongoing challenges.

Dan Caplinger has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Nasdaq. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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