Hot Stocks: Semiconductor stocks fall; BCRX, CCCC plunge; WDFC rises on earnings

With investors worried about a murky economic future, the major US equity averages posted a mixed performance on Friday. Weakness in tech drove the Nasdaq and S&P 500 lower, while the Dow scratched out a modest gain.

Semiconductor makers contributed to the slide in technology, with Truist issuing a cautious note on the sector. Nvidia (NVDA), Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and Broadcom (AVGO) all finished lower.

Meanwhile, drug development setbacks sparked multiple sell-offs during the session. BioCryst (BCRX) dropped after the firm was forced to halt enrollment in a clinical trial. At the same time, issues with dose-limiting toxicities sent C4 Therapeutics (CCCC) reeling, with the stock losing more than half its value.

Looking at some of the day’s standout gainers, WD-40 (WDFC) rallied on earnings news and an analyst’s upgrade allowed Kroger (NYSE: KR) to set a new 52-week high.

Sector In Focus

Worries about the tech space drove the Nasdaq lower again on Friday, with the index dropping nearly 6% over the past four sessions. This slide has been led, in part, by a retreat in shares of computer chip makers, a downward march that continued during Friday’s session.

Truist provided the most recent catalyst for retreat, with the firm warning that it has seen “hard evidence of order cuts” for semiconductors. Analyst William Stein added that data points to a “sudden negative shift” in demand.

Weighed down by the darkening industry sentiment, big-name players were among the losers in the sector. Nvidia (NVDA) fell 4.5%, while Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) retreated almost 3%.

Broadcom (AVGO) also posted a notable slide, declining by nearly 3%.

Standout Gainer

Strong earnings prompted buying interest in WD-40 (WDFC), which rose about 7% on the session.

The maker of the iconic mechanical lubricating product reported a quarterly profit that exceeded expectations. This came as revenue rose 16% from last year to reach nearly $ 130M.

Looking ahead, the firm projected 2022 sales between $ 522M and $ 547M, with earnings expected to hit a level of $ 5.14 to $ 5.27 per share. Analysts were looking for a figure of $ 5.18 per share, with sales around $ 538M.

WDFC rose $ 12.37 to conclude trading at $ 186.88. The advance allowed the stock to bounce off a 52-week low of $ 170.44 set earlier in the week.

Even with Friday’s pop, shares have fallen almost 27% since late January.

Standout Loser

BioCryst (BCRX) plunged on news that it has decided to halt enrollment in a clinical trial of its factor D inhibitor, known as BCX9930. Shares dropped almost 38% on the news.

The company reported that it paused enrollment after testing found elevated serum creatinine levels in some patients. BCX9930 was being tested in paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria, a rare hematological condition.

BCRX finished Friday’s trading at $ 11.12, a decline of $ 6.76 on the session. With the slide, the stock reversed gains posted in January and early February, but it remained above a 52-week low of $ 9.23 set last April.

Notable New High

A positive analyst comment sparked gains in Kroger (KR), allowing shares of the grocery store chain to extend recent gains. The stock rose about 3% on the day, setting a fresh 52-week high.

Bank of America upgraded KR to Buy from Neutral, arguing the company can thrive in a high-inflation environment. The firm also raised the stock’s price target to $ 75 from $ 61.

Analyst Robert Ohmes said elevated inflation, which he sees lasting at least through the first half of 2023, will favor retailers with more variety. Ohmes also praised the firm’s “scale and price leadership, strong execution, digital outlook, and developing ecosystem.”

KR rose $ 1.80 to close at $ 61.67. during the session, the stock also reached an intraday 52-week high of $ 62.78.

With Friday’s advance, the stock resumed an upswing posted in late February and early March. That earlier rally was helped in part by a better-than-expected earnings report.

KR has climbed 39% since Feb. 24 and 56% over the last six months.

Notable New Low

Shares of C4 Therapeutics (CCCC) fell off a cliff on Friday, dragged down by the release of clinical trial data. The stock cratered almost 51%, falling to a new 52-week low.

The company reported that a Phase 1/2 study of its lead asset, called CFT7455, included two dose-limiting toxicities at the starting dose. The trial was looking at the product in patients with multiple myeloma.

CCCC stated that the trial also produced early evidence of clinical activity.

CCCC plummeted in the early afternoon as news of trial data broke. The retreat sent the stock to a new intraday 52-week low of $ 9.75. Shares recovered a bit before the close but still finished at $ 11.32, a decline of $ 11.58 on the day.

Friday’s drop took CCCC below recent support, adding to weakness shown in late 2021 and early 2022. Shares have fallen almost 78% since setting a 52-week high of $ 51.21 last September.

For more on the day’s best- and worst-performing stocks, head over to Seeking Alpha’s On The Move section.

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