Stocks finished the week on a strong note, with market participants feeling more confident about the long-term direction of the economy. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell back below 4%, suggesting that the recent declines in bond prices might finally take a pause. Gains for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 0.01%), Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC 1.10%), and S&P 500 (^GSPC 0.70%) amounted to as much as 2%.


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Data source: Yahoo! Finance.

Two stocks were noteworthy in helping drive markets higher. Broadcom (AVGO 1.04%) often goes unnoticed, but the semiconductor giant  plays a key role in its industry and did extremely well on Friday. Meanwhile, in the solar power business, First Solar (FSLR 10.78%) had another great day, adding to gains from earlier in the week. Read on to learn more about these outstanding performers.

Broadcom looks to cash in on cutting-edge tech

Shares of Broadcom rose 6% on Friday. The chipmaker reported fiscal first-quarter results that showed solid gains and pointed to more strength ahead.

Broadcom's quarterly numbers were impressive in many ways. For the period, which ended Jan. 29, revenue climbed 16% to $8.915 billion, bucking the pressure that has resulted in much smaller sales gains for some of its rivals. Adjusted net income climbed by an even steeper 20% to $4.48 billion, working out to $10.33 per share. Free cash flow posted a solid gain as well, rising by more than half a billion dollars to $3.93 billion.

Broadcom did report mixed results in its two main segments. Its semiconductor solutions business was strong, with a 21% rise in revenue. However, the infrastructure software segment suffered a modest 1% sales decline.

That said, investors seemed pleased with Broadcom's guidance for its fiscal second quarter, which included calls for sales of $8.7 billion and adjusted pre-tax operating margins of about 64.5%. With CEO Hock Tan expecting the company to lead the industry with next-generation technology in areas like artificial intelligence, Broadcom shareholders hope that the stock price will proceed to top the all-time high it set late in 2021. If it does, it would accomplish that feat a lot sooner than many of its peers.

First Solar keeps shining

Shares of First Solar climbed another 6% on Friday, bringing its gains for the week to nearly 30%.

Friday's pop stemmed in part from an upgrade of First Solar's stock from analysts at UBS, who took their rating from neutral to buy and boosted their price target from $140 per share all the way to $250 per share. UBS is optimistic about the prospects for the solar energy leader because of the passage of President Biden's Inflation Reduction Act last year, which included valuable tax incentives for renewable energy. Analysts believe that First Solar might be better positioned than its rivals to take advantage of those legislative provisions in the years to come.

The positive view came after First Solar released its most recent quarterly results earlier in the week. The company posted much smaller losses than it had in the year-earlier period, with solid sales growth even in a challenging macroeconomic environment. CEO Mark Widmar predicted that 2023 should also be favorable for First Solar, citing record levels of backlog that will ensure a good flow of business well into the future.

This week's moves have lifted First Solar's stock to its best levels in 15 years. If shareholders have their way, though, that could be just a taste of even better things to come.