The Motley Fool

Three Stocks That Went Up on Wall Street’s Worst Day

What happened

If you thought the coronavirus crisis on Wall Street couldn’t get any worse after Wednesday — surprise! — it just did. Markets that were merely shaky earlier in the day on Thursday ended in a rout in the closing minutes of trading. When the closing bells rang, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were both down 4.4%, and the Nasdaq had fallen 4.6%.

In percentage terms, this was the eighth biggest drop in the Dow in history. By “points” lost, however, it was Wall Street’s worst day ever.

And yet, even on this arguably worst day in recorded Dow history, three tech stocks managed to buck the tide. As stocks fell left and right around them, shares of fintech stock Square (NYSE: SQ) closed the day up 3.6%; remote videoconferencer Zoom Video (NASDAQ: ZM) closed up 6.2%; and online freelance work-finder Upwork (NASDAQ: UPWK) closed up 7.3%.

So what

What made these three stocks defy the downtrend? Each company had its own specific reasons for showing strength yesterday.

In the case of Zoom, for example, analysts at Bernstein in a note today observed that “average daily downloads” of Zoom’s app “are up 90% … in the last 30 days alone,” compared to last month, and “user engagement” is up, as well. So far this year, Zoom has added more new users than it did in all of 2019.

At Upwork and Square, meanwhile, it was earnings that drove stock gains.

Upwork reported positive profits in Q4 ($0.03 per share) versus the loss Wall Street had anticipated. Upwork also beat on sales in the quarter. Even with the company guiding to lower revenues than analysts had predicted in the year ahead, Upwork’s news stood in such stark contrast to what everyone else has been saying lately that the stock really couldn’t help but go up.

Square said it earned $0.83 per share last quarter, which appears to be far more than the $0.21 per share that Wall Street was expecting (although TheFly.com points out that Square’s numbers “may not be comparable” to Wall Street’s consensus). Like Zoom, Square guided cautiously on the year ahead, but its first-quarter 2020 guidance, at least — $0.16 to $0.18 per share in profit — appears likely to beat Street expectations for $0.16.

Now what

As businesses build on the idea of permitting workers to interact remotely — in contrast to close enough for person-to-person transmission of the coronavirus — both Upwork and Zoom appear well-positioned to not just survive, but also potentially thrive in this current health crisis. Square, which is tied more to in-person sales transactions, may yet see its sales slide if the contagion worsens. For the time being, however, let’s just be pleased with its Q4 performance.

In fact, on a day like yesterday, let’s just be happy that any company is still doing well.

This article was originally published on Fool.com. All figures quoted in US dollars unless otherwise stated.

Just Released! 5 Stocks Under $49 (FREE REPORT)

Motley Fool Canada's market-beating team has just released a brand-new FREE report revealing 5 "dirt cheap" stocks that you can buy today for under $49 a share.
Our team thinks these 5 stocks are critically undervalued, but more importantly, could potentially make Canadian investors who act quickly a fortune.
Don't miss out! Simply click the link below to grab your free copy and discover all 5 of these stocks now.

Claim your FREE 5-stock report now!

Rich Smith has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Square and Zoom Video Communications. The Motley Fool recommends Upwork and recommends the following options: short March 2020 $70 puts on Square and short May 2020 $120 calls on Zoom Video Communications. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Two New Stock Picks Every Month!

Not to alarm you, but you’re about to miss an important event.

Iain Butler and the Stock Advisor Canada team only publish their new “buy alerts” twice a month, and only to an exclusively small group.

This is your chance to get in early on what could prove to be very special investment advice.

Enter your email address below to get started now, and join the other thousands of Canadians who have already signed up for their chance to get the market-beating advice from Stock Advisor Canada.

I consent to receiving information from The Motley Fool via email, direct mail, and occasional special offer phone calls. I understand I can unsubscribe from these updates at any time. Please read the Privacy Statement and Terms of Service for more information.