Stocks headed into the weekend on a strong note, as all three major indices ended higher and the Dow finished at an all-time closing high. Although Wall Street polished off the week with gains, there wasn't an overwhelming, undeniable sense of bullishness; in fact, just less than 54% of stocks managed to advance. Not included in that 54% were today's three most miserable performers: NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA), Consolidated Edison (NYSE:ED), and Western Digital Corp. (NASDAQ:WDC), each of which ended near the bottom of the S&P 500 Index (SNPINDEX:^SPX) on Friday. The S&P, for its part, tacked on two points, or 0.2%, to end at 1,878.
For being one of the S&P's most severe decliners, NVIDIA's stock should count its blessings. Today's 2.4% setback is the sort of swing you see in the stock market every day, and it even came after the graphics company reported a pretty solid quarter of results. Sales in the first quarter agreed with analyst expectations at $1.1 billion, and earnings per share actually clocked in more than 50% higher than consensus forecasts. Still, Mr. Market is somewhat skeptical that NVIDIA can continue to flourish, since its GPU segment exposes it to the struggling PC market.
Quite often when the stock market enjoys broad gains, more conservative investments struggle, leaving bonds and other income investments lagging behind. Within the stock market, this means that companies with predictable, sturdy results and high dividends get the short end of the stick, as investors take a "risk-on" mentality. It was Friday's tolerance for risk that sent shares of Consolidated Edison 2.1% lower, as the utilities sector ended as the day's worst performer. It's tough to understand why shares took the beating they did today, because the company not only pays a handsome 4.4% dividend, but also crushed quarterly earnings expectations.
Finally, shares of Western Digital Corp fell 2% on Friday. Last week, the data storage company, along with shares of its competitor Seagate Technology, each tumbled, as the businesses reacted to quarterly results. Both stocks topped earnings estimates, but forecast lower sales in the coming quarter than Wall Street expected. Western Digital's market share in the disc-drive market also edged somewhat lower, to 44.1%, while the average selling price of its products continued to trend lower.