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These 2 Stocks Are Pulling the Nasdaq Higher

By Dan Caplinger – Dec 2, 2021 at 2:46PM

Key Points

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Only one of them is in technology, but both are posting big gains.

The stock market decided to try and mount a comeback on Thursday. After a couple of days of downward moves, investors seemed to feel more confident that the future would bring better and brighter things. As of 1:30 p.m. ET, the Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC 1.74%) was up about half a percent, trailing most other major market benchmarks.

Tech stocks have been lagging the broader market, which might explain some of the Nasdaq's underperformance. Yet today, shares of Okta (OKTA 2.25%) mounted a nice advance following encouraging earnings. Moreover, the Nasdaq reminded investors that it has more than just tech stocks, as retail company Duluth Holdings (DLTH 0.63%) was a strong influence on the market as well. You'll find more details below.

Okta rebounds

Shares of Okta were up 11% on Thursday. The identity verification specialist had seen its stock fall to its lowest level of the year, but third-quarter results gave investors more confidence.

Person on computer looking at multiple screens in a large room.

Image source: Getty Images.

Okta had strong growth from year-ago levels. Revenue jumped 61% year over year on a 63% rise in subscription sales. Although much of those gains were due to Okta's acquisition of Auth0, organic sales were still up 40% from the third quarter of the previous year. Remaining performance obligations were up by nearly half, and billings jumped 54%.

Okta also expects the good times to continue. Fourth-quarter guidance called for growth of 53% from year-ago levels, and the company expects to finish its 2022 fiscal year with sales that were roughly 53% higher than in fiscal 2021.

Just about the only bad news in the report was the fact that Okta swung to a loss even on an adjusted basis, reversing a modest adjusted profit in the year-earlier period. Nevertheless, after a swoon that lopped off more than a quarter of the company's value just since mid-November, investors are pleased to see Okta regaining some of its footing.

Duluth lives up to its name

Elsewhere, shares of Duluth Holdings jumped 17%. The workwear retailer had strong third-quarter results that gave investors greater confidence in the company.

Duluth compared favorably both to last year's numbers and to 2019 figures from before the COVID-19 pandemic. Sales of $145 million were up 7% year over year and 21% from 2019. Gross margin was up more than five percentage points, hitting a record for the period of 57.6%, and net income tripled from 2020's third quarter to $0.09 per share.

To produce these results, Duluth had to overcome some adversity. As CEO Sam Sato noted, Duluth faced supply chain disruptions and clogging in the logistical transportation networks that get the company's goods where they need to go. Yet the retailer was successful, and Sato said that early trends in the holiday season are pointing to continued strength going into the end of the year. That was reflected in updated guidance, which calls for sales of $700 million to $715 million and earnings of $0.81 to $0.86 per share for the full year.

Going forward, Duluth anticipates doubling down on its digital strategy to generate a strong direct-to-consumer effort in reaching its customers. If it can do so, then Duluth investors could see even more upside ahead.

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

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