Why Zoom and Workday Are Pulling the Nasdaq in Different Directions Friday

The Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX:^IXIC) continued to outperform the broader market on Friday, responding in its own way to alarming news about the COVID-19 pandemic and new measures aimed to stop the spread of the disease. Even as most major market benchmarks lost ground, the Nasdaq was up modestly as of just after noon EST.

Yet underneath what seemed like a relatively calm day on the Nasdaq, there were some big winners and losers. Even among top software-as-a-service names, Zoom Video Communications (NASDAQ:ZM) and Workday (NASDAQ:WDAY) stood out as they moved sharply in different directions. Below, we’ll look at what sent these SaaS stocks on diverging paths and what it means for investors.

Another move higher for Zoom

Zoom shares were up 6% at midday on Friday. The video collaboration software platform provider has been one of the big winners in the past year, and the usefulness of its product in helping people cope with the business and personal impacts of the pandemic has been the biggest reason.

Person at desk looking at computer screen with Zoom meeting on it.

Image source: Zoom.

Zoom shareholders have seen how the stock has been vulnerable recently when positive news about coronavirus vaccines has come out. Whenever the end of the coronavirus crisis comes, it’ll bring with it questions about whether Zoom will be able to hang onto most of the customers it has attracted during the pandemic. Moreover, given the huge gains that the share price has seen, it’s possible that even if the company keeps growing at a healthy clip, Zoom’s stock could fall back from its recent heights.

Yet in the long run, Zoom’s prospects still look strong. The company isn’t simply coasting on the success of its video platform, instead adding new features and looking at adjacent applications like phone service to boost and diversify revenue sources.

Moreover, companies across the globe have seen the value that Zoom can add. During the pandemic, it’s been a matter of necessity rather than cost, but the advantages of the Zoom platform will remain even after people return to work. That’s a long-term positive, and it helps explain how the stock can rise even with a potential vaccine just weeks away.

A cautious tone at Workday

However, Workday’s stock gave up 7% Friday at midday. The human resources software platform provider enjoyed solid growth, but its outlook raised some concerns about what the future could bring for the company.

Fiscal third-quarter results included some good-looking numbers. Total revenue rose 18% year over year on a 21% rise in subscription-based sales. Backlogs rose 23% to $8.87 billion, and losses under generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) continued to narrow even as adjusted earnings soared more than 60% from the same period last year. The company cited record demand and strong momentum in several areas of Workday’s business, including not just its core Human Capital Management platform but also its products for financial management and strategic sourcing.

Yet even as it boosted its outlook for the full year, Workday cautioned that there could still be some negative effects from the pandemic that the company hasn’t yet seen. That could hurt next year’s numbers, and most stock analysts covering the company either left their previous calls on Workday alone or made very modest reductions to share price targets.

The moves in these two stocks show that you can’t generalize about what impact certain trends will have on industries. You still have to look closely at each individual company to understand everything that’s going on — and to make the smartest investment choices possible.

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