Nasdaq Treads Water as Flex Lights Up, First Citizens Climbs on CIT Buy

It’s been a turbulent week for the Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX:^IXIC), which posted strong gains on Monday and spent the rest of the week fighting to hang onto them. In the end, market participants managed to defend their weekly gains, albeit failing to claw back much of the ground they’d given up in three consecutive days of losses. Just before 3:30 p.m. EDT, the Nasdaq was up just 0.15%.

Most of the big-name tech stocks that investors commonly associate with the Nasdaq Stock Market were mixed on Friday. However, moving higher were a couple of lower-profile companies. Solar specialist Flex (NASDAQ:FLEX) managed to gain ground on positive comments from some stock analysts, and First Citizens BancShares (NASDAQ:FCNCA) rose after announcing a big acquisition.

Flexing its muscles

Shares of Flex were higher by 12% on Friday. The little-known Singapore-based company makes a host of electronic components, but what drew some investors’ eyes this week had to do with a subsidiary that Flex has owned for some time.

Analysts at RBC Capital raised their rating on Flex from sector perform to outperform, boosting their price target on the stock from $ 4 per share to $ 16. Similarly, analysts at JPMorgan gave their price target a $ 2 boost to $ 16 per share, keeping their overweight rating on Flex.

Solar panel array on a residential roof.

Image source: Getty Images.

What many don’t realize is that Flex owns a business called NEXTracker, which specializes in building the equipment that helps solar panel arrays follow the sun across the sky over the course of the day. By doing so, NEXTracker can help solar-project owners dramatically boost their electricity-generation capacity compared to fixed-angle equipment.

Earlier this week, Array Technologies (NASDAQ:ARRY) had its IPO and got a good reception from investors. Analysts now believe that Flex should pursue strategic moves to unlock the value of NEXTracker, which actually has larger market share than Array. Whether it comes from a spinoff or divestiture, shareholders hope that Flex will get a further boost from making an opportunistic move in the near future.

Banking on a merger

Meanwhile, in the banking sector, First Citizens BancShares got a nice boost, rising 11%. It’s always good news when both the purchaser and the target see their stock prices rise on a merger announcement, and that’s what happened with First Citizens.

First Citizens will buy CIT Group (NYSE:CIT) in a stock merger valued at $ 2.2 billion. Under the terms of the deal, CIT shareholders will receive 0.062 shares of First Citizens stock per CIT share. After the deal is complete, First Citizens investors will own a bit over 60% of the combined company, leaving almost 40% for CIT’s legacy shareholders.

In general, the banking sector  has been ripe for consolidation for a long time. With interest rates having come down sharply, the opportunity to make money purely from net interest income has waned. That’s put pressure on some smaller banks, especially when there’s an opportunity to produce cost savings by combining forces to produce larger economies of scale.

Both First Citizens and CIT see their combined bank producing improved earnings overall. By bringing together First Citizens’ retail focus and the commercial strength of CIT, the post-merger bank could look a lot healthier.