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Stock Market Stays Flat Friday as Netflix Earnings Signal Future Slowdown; Novavax Keeps Soaring on Vaccine Hopes

The stock market has seen a lot of volatility lately, and Friday morning wasn't any exception. Major indexes opened higher, then turned lower and fell into negative territory before flattening out near the unchanged level. Just after 11 a.m. EDT today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI) was down 14 points to 26,721. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC) rose 4 points to 3,220, and the Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX: ^IXIC) was higher by just 2 points to 10,476.

Just because the Dow and other indexes were flat doesn't mean there wasn't excitement in the market. Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) fell sharply under pressure following its second-quarter earnings report late Thursday. But Novavax (NASDAQ: NVAX) found its stock moving sharply higher for the second day in a row. 

Fade to black for Netflix?

Shares of Netflix were down almost 7% Friday morning. Investors continued to weigh the conflicting readings they got from the company's second-quarter financial report and its outlook.

The quarter's results were extremely favorable for Netflix. The streaming video giant added 10.1 million subscribers from April to June, easily topping the 7.5 million additions that Netflix itself had predicted three months ago. Revenue climbed by 25% year over year, and improved margins helped the company's bottom line, offset only by some special charges that depressed earnings per share and kept Netflix from matching expectations.

Netflix logo inside a graphic TV with slogan Recommended TV.

Image source: Netflix.

The problem, though, is that Netflix tried to rein in rising expectations for the remainder of the year. Now that people are starting to return to work after coronavirus-imposed business shutdowns, the streaming video provider expects that the pace of subscription growth will necessarily slow. Investors didn't like the projection of just 2.5 million new subscribers for the third quarter, nor do they want to see revenue growth slow to just over 20%.

Bullish investors hope that Netflix is simply lowballing its guidance to make it easier to surpass reduced expectations next quarter. The stock's decline suggests that shareholders at least are taking the less optimistic view seriously.

Novavax looks healthier than ever

Elsewhere, shares of Novavax jumped 15%, setting another record for the biotech stock. Excitement about the prospects for a coronavirus vaccine has already driven the stock into triple digits after having traded as low as $4 per share in January.

Novavax climbed 8% to 9% on Thursday after analysts weighed in with positive views on the company. The federal government had initially left Novavax out of its Operation Warp Speed coronavirus-fighting program, but earlier this month, the company's NVX-CoV2373 candidate vaccine got added to the elite list. That put $1.6 billion into Novavax's pocket and more importantly added credibility to the company's development program.

Thursday's climb to $120 per share wasn't enough to match either Wainwright's $132 price target or B. Riley FBR's $155 target. But Friday morning's continued rise vaulted past the Wainwright view, affirming its hopes that Novavax will be able to claim at least a tenth of the COVID-19 vaccine market in the next few years.

There's still plenty of competition among biotech stocks to resolve the coronavirus crisis, and Novavax is far from dominating the field. Many see the company having a greater chance to profit from a vaccine, however, and those hopes will drive the stock's movements in the months to come.

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

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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