Companies Trim Outlooks, Travel and Staff as Virus Spreads
NEW YORK (AP) – The spreading coronavirus is affecting businesses worldwide. Here are some of the latest developments:
ALTERED EXPECTATIONS: General Electric Co. General Electric believes the viral outbreak could have a negative impact of about $300 million to $500 million on its first-quarter industrial free cash flow. Operating profit for the period could be hurt by about $200 million to $300 million. GE said that the expectations are incorporated into its full-year 2020 outlook.
NXP Semiconductors N.V. says its first-quarter revenue expectations are being reduced, citing the potential impact of the virus. The company foresees revenue being lowered by $50 million to $150 million. The company said the $50 million impact is what it’s seen so far, and that the upper range of $150 million is estimated on seeing a return to weakness in the coming weeks.
RATIONING: Kroger Co. is placing limits on the number of certain products that customers buy as its shelves are cleared by people doing heavy stocking in preparation for any spread of the virus. “Due to high demand and to support all customers, we will be limiting the number of sanitization, cold and flu related products to 5 each per order. Your order may be modified at time of pickup or delivery,” the company said on its website.
TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS: Starbucks converted its big annual shareholders meeting in hometown Seattle to a virtual only event due to concerns about the virus. The meeting will still be held on March 18 as originally planned.
The party-like event which attracted 4,000 shareholders last year was supposed to be held at a theater in downtown Seattle. A virus cluster has emerged in Washington state, however, with nine deaths reported.
F5 Networks Inc. postponed its analyst and investor event due to the virus outbreak. The company was scheduled to hold the event in New York this week. The cloud technology company, based in Seattle, also F5 has also postponed its annual user conference scheduled for mid-March in Orlando, Florida.
Organizers said Wednesday that Global Gaming Expo Asia, originally scheduled to be held on May 19-21 in Macao, a special Chinese region, will now be held at the end of July.
The “outbreak and related travel and commercial restrictions make those preparations too difficult to hold the show as originally planned,” the organizers said. More than 13,000 people attended last year’s expo.
CLOSE TO HOME: Amazon says one of its employees in Seattle has contracted the new coronavirus. “We’re supporting the affected employee who is in quarantine,” the online retailer said in a statement.
Amazon said earlier this week that two of its employees in Milan, Italy have contracted the virus and are quarantined.
Amazon has asked its 800,000 employees worldwide to postpone non-essential travel. It is also conducting some job interviews on video conference calls instead of in its offices.
Aflac announced Wednesday that a temporary worker at its call center in Kobe, Japan is infected with the virus. The individual had attended an event in Osaka where multiple participants also contracted the virus.
The company said it’s continuing to monitor the recovery of the infected individual, who is being instructed to refrain from coming into the office.
Aflac said its Kobe call center operations remain unaffected and its operations in Japan are continuing to run normally.
STAFF REDUCTIONS: Finnish national carrier Finnair is planning temporary layoffs between 14 days up to one month for its entire staff based in Finland due to the economic impact caused by coronavirus to the airline’s operations. The measure will affect more than 6,000 Finnair employees. The Finnish flag carrier, which has a total staff of nearly 7,000, has strongly focused on Europe to Asia flights from its Helsinki hub and has been forced to temporarily cancel flights to mainland China and other Asian destinations because of the coronavirus. The state-controlled Finnair issued a profit warning last week, saying the spread of coronavirus has caused a decrease in demand on its crucial Asian routes. On Wednesday, Finnair said it would postpone the opening of a new route from Helsinki to Busan, South Korea from the planned March 31 to July 1 this year.