Markets

Intel Beats but Falls 9%; Markets Pull Back on Jobs, Congress

Markets pulled back today during regular trading, citing an uptick in new jobless claims and questions regarding whether further congressional help will come for U.S. citizens before the current relief packages expire. We’ve also seen lots of bullish exuberance in the market, particularly the tech-heavy Nasdaq, that hasn’t been particularly warranted over the course of the past few weeks.

We’ve begun to notice a pattern here over the past month or two: general positive sentiment in the market for most days, periodically dotted by crises of conscience that send markets temporarily south. But today was nothing at all devastating — the Nasdaq gave back 2.3%, or 244.7 points; the Dow sold off 1.3%, or 353.5 points; and the S&P 500 hived off 40.3 points or 1.23%. None of these figures ought to shift sentiment in any meaningful way.

That said, today was the worst single trading day on the Nasdaq in about 4 weeks, and the lowest for the Dow in 2 weeks. The S&P posted its first down day in the last 5. Depending on news headlines regarding progress on a new relief package — as well as potentially better coronavirus numbers than we’ve been seeing, not to mention progress on vaccine development — we may see the same snap-back to bullishness we’ve seen in past single-day selloffs in recent times.

Chip giant Intel INTC outperformed expectations on both top and bottom lines after Thursday’s close, although it seems to have perpetuated a 9% selloff ahead of the company’s conference call beginning at the top of the hour. Earnings of $1.23 per share on sales of $19.73 billion easily swooped past expectations of $1.11 per share (and $1.06 in the year-ago quarter) and revenue estimates of $18.54 billion. But softer guidance for Q3 and lower gross margins, especially compared to a year ago (55% vs. 62%) have helped fuel the selloff.

Intel routinely beats earnings estimates by sizable margins. The trailing 4-quarter average beat reached over 17%, and the company has not missed an earnings consensus in 26 quarters and counting. Shares, which had been trading roughly even year to date, are now back in the red on the late-market selloff.

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