The stock market continued to make positive moves on Friday as investors seemed to maintain their overall enthusiasm regarding the prospects for the U.S. economy and for the business community as quarterly earnings season looms. As of 11 a.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) had climbed 118 points to 27,207. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) eased higher by 3 points to 3,003, while the Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX:^IXIC) was higher by 9 points to 8,205.
However, just because the Dow and other indexes found gains doesn’t mean that some companies didn’t have to deal with challenges. Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) continued to get negative comments about its proposed Libra cryptocurrency, with a new player weighing in on the effort. Meanwhile, Illumina (NASDAQ:ILMN) gave a stern warning to investors about what the company is likely to see in its second-quarter results, and shareholders didn’t like what they saw.
Trump weighs in on Facebook’s Libra
Shares of Facebook were little changed Friday morning despite the social media giant having to deal with continuing concerns about its recently announced cryptocurrency token, Libra. Having heard from Fed Chair Jay Powell in the past couple of days about his worries regarding Libra, the token also got the attention of the White House.
President Trump was negative about cryptocurrencies broadly, saying that the value of bitcoin and other tokens “is highly volatile and based on thin air.” The president also pointed to the use of crypto assets for illegal activity as a knock against them. Specifically about Libra, Trump believes that the new token won’t move the needle in providing an alternative to bitcoin with greater standing or reliability.
Many still see Libra as potentially being a huge net positive for Facebook. By attracting businesses interested in crypto tokens and customers who don’t have traditional banking services, Facebook could use Libra to break into a largely untapped market. By making it easier for users to stay inside the Facebook platform to move money — whether it’s for peer-to-peer transfers or for business transactions — the social media giant’s ecosystem will get that much stickier. Despite criticism, investors should expect Facebook to keep moving forward with its plans for Libra unless more serious opposition arises.
Illumina looks ill
Shares of Illumina plunged 16% after the genetic sequencing company reported its preliminary revenue estimates for the second quarter. Illumina said that it believes its sales for the quarter will come in at around $835 million. That’s up just $5 million from what the company posted in the year-ago period, and it was considerably worse than what most investors were expecting to see.
Illumina blamed the shortfall on several factors. Weakness in population genomics initiatives revenue stemmed in part from what the company hopes will be merely a timing-related delay in a major transaction. Smaller hits from poor results in the direct-to-consumer business and in Illumina’s NextSeq sequencing system and consumables contributed as well. Despite considerable growth in sales of consumable products for the NovaSeq system, it wasn’t able to offset pressure elsewhere. Moreover, the company now sees slower growth in full-year 2019 results because of those adverse trends.
Illumina tried to put a positive spin on the news, with CEO Francis deSouza emphasizing that “our preliminary analysis suggests that these challenges are transitory and do not reflect a macro change to the fundamentals of our business.” Yet some analysts didn’t agree, with pros at B of A/Merrill Lynch cutting its rating on Illumina’s stock from buy all the way to underperform and reducing its price target by $65 to $290. After having seen so much success lately, Illumina’s news was disappointing, and the genetics specialist will have to work hard to regain its momentum.