The stock market had a tough session on Friday, as investors worried about the looming possibility of a U.S. government default on its sovereign debt. As of 2 p.m. ET, the Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC -0.64%) was leading other major benchmarks lower, falling about 0.6%.
Yet a couple of Nasdaq stocks managed to post solid gains on Friday. First Solar (FSLR 26.14%) and News Corp (NWS 7.66%) gave their investors some positive things to think about, and that helped lift their shares dramatically. Below, you’ll learn more about what sent First Solar and News Corp into the spotlight heading into the weekend.
First Solar makes a smart purchase
Shares of First Solar soared 23% in early afternoon trading on Friday. The move higher added between $4 billion and $5 billion to the solar specialist‘s market cap, which makes it all the more noteworthy that such a tiny piece of news prompted such a large boost.
First Solar announced that it would acquire European thin-film specialist Evolar. Under the terms of the deal, First Solar will make an up-front payment of $38 million at closing, and then as much as $42 million in additional compensation could go to Evolar based on a set list of technical milestones.
First Solar sees the acquisition giving it a greater ability to develop next-generation photovoltaic technology, in large part because of Evolar’s expertise in perovskite tech. The solar giant expects to integrate Evolar’s technology with its own research and development efforts. CEO Mark Widmar said that the acquisition is an investment “not just in First Solar’s future but the future of solar energy” more broadly.
Yet what might have been the catalyst for at least some of First Solar’s move higher was a Wall Street analyst citing tax credit provisions as being favorable for the stock. With so much attention on offering incentives for renewable energy, First Solar is being smart to bulk up its stable of technologies and aim to remain on the cutting edge of technological advances.
News Corp looks to mount a recovery
Shares of News Corp climbed 7%. The media giant saw a substantial rebound in advertising, and while some of its financial performance remained ugly, investors are hopeful that the company is on the mend.
News Corp’s fiscal third-quarter results for the period ended March 31 were mixed. Revenue held up reasonably well, falling just 2% year over year to $2.45 billion. The company’s Dow Jones financial news segment saw higher revenue, but its digital real estate business suffered from poor conditions in the housing market both in the U.S. and Australia. Net income fell sharply, dropping 43% from year-ago levels to $59 million.
However, investors were pleased to see News Corp’s 2021 acquisition of Oil Price Information Service pay off. By increasing its ability to deliver data and analytics services to clients, the media company helped to generate solid subscription growth.
Like many companies, News Corp also implemented significant cost control measures aimed at cutting expenses and raising profit. With hopes to save as much as $160 million per year from its recent layoffs of 5% of its workforce, the company is working to be as efficient as possible. Moreover, with the prospects for artificial intelligence to play a role in content delivery, News Corp is positioning itself for a much different future ahead.