Markets

Stock Markets Fall on Fastly Warning; Aphria Brings Pot Stocks Down

The stock market has put together an impressive performance in the past several weeks, but it's currently going through a reversal of fortune. Investors are blaming the turnaround in part on Washington, which remains unable to come to a consensus on how to provide greater economic stimulus to the American people and to domestic businesses. The result was another pullback on Thursday morning, with most major benchmarks losing between 0.5% and 1%. As of shortly after 11:30 a.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI) was down 151 points to 28,363. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC) lost 24 points to 3,464, and the Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX: ^IXIC) fell 115 points to 11,653.

Part of what started the market's downturn was a warning from edge computing specialist Fastly (NYSE: FSLY) late Wednesday that sent its shares plunging, but the carryover impact from that drop hasn't been as large as feared. Meanwhile, marijuana stock Aphria (NASDAQ: APHA) reported its latest financial results, and cannabis investors weren't happy with what those figures said about the overall industry's prospects.

Analysts pile on against Fastly

Shares of Fastly fell 23%, which was actually a considerable improvement from the 30% drop at the opening bell. The company's sales warning prompted a host of Wall Street analysts to cut their views on the edge computing stock.

Fastly said late Wednesday that its sales growth would slow to 40% to 42% in the third quarter, which was less than its own previous projections, as well as what investors expected. The company blamed its largest customer, TikTok owner ByteDance, for the revenue shortfall, because TikTok apparently didn't meet Fastly's expectations for how much the social media giant would use its service.

Analysts were quick to become less optimistic about Fastly. Stifel and Baird downgraded the stock from buy/outperform to hold/neutral, reducing their price targets on Fastly by roughly $20 per share. Piper Sandler, Credit Suisse, and DA Davidson followed suit with price target cuts of their own. Among their comments were a lack of certainty about what the future will bring and what impact TikTok's political issues with the U.S. government could have going forward.

As big as today's decline was, it only returned Fastly to levels at which it traded a few weeks ago. Investors appear to have at least some confidence in the company's long-term growth prospects, albeit with the potential for more bumps in the road.

Marijuana leaf on top of a $100 bill.

Image source: Getty Images.

Aphria loses its high

Shares of Aphria fell 18% Thursday morning. The cannabis producer reported fiscal first-quarter financial results that reflected some poor conditions in the marijuana market right now.

Aphria did manage to keep seeing rising demand for its product. Net cannabis revenue more than doubled from year-ago levels and gained 23% from three months ago. Total net revenue climbed 16% year over year.

Yet Aphria gets a considerable part of its business from being a distributor of medical pharmaceuticals, and that part of its operations did poorly this quarter. The company said issues related to COVID-19 led to a 4% drop in total sales compared to three months ago.

Given that much of Aphria's shortfall came from its non-marijuana business, it's unclear why so many pot stocks followed its lead and fell. But that's what's happening, with Tilray (NASDAQ: TLRY) losing 7%, Aurora Cannabis (NYSE: ACB) down nearly 5%, Cronos Group (NASDAQ: CRON) off 4%, and Canopy Growth (NYSE: CGC) losing 3%. Considering how poorly marijuana stocks have done for a long while now, it's likely investors just wanted better news than they got from Aphria Thursday.

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Dan Caplinger has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Fastly. 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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