The words of Christine Lagarde today after she came under fire for her initial response to the crisis. The markets settled somewhat helped by Italy and Spain’s ban on some short selling. Last night, the UK confirmed it was moving to a delay phase in managing the virus. Countries across the globe have increased their response, closing schools, cancelling events and shutting borders. Trump is holding a press conference at 8pm when he is expected to declare a national state of emergency. While there is still debate over the best approach to take, it is clear governments are no longer holding back in their response and are accepting the magnitude of the event.
• Eurocell# (UPVC home products) – “As yet, there has been no discernible impact on our business from COVID-19, although we remain very alert to this possibility. We have a strong balance sheet, and in March 2020 we were pleased to increase our bank facility to £75 million. We maintain a conservative approach to debt, in order to ensure good liquidity and to manage any emerging risks. Despite the impact of very wet weather so far this year, we have made a good start to 2020. Sales and margins for the first two months are in line with our expectations, and notwithstanding macroeconomic and political uncertainty, we expect to deliver further progress this year.”
• Saga – “We have, therefore, made the decision to temporarily suspend operations of our cruises until 1 May 2020. It is estimated that a cessation of cruise trading for the next six weeks will reduce cruise profit before tax by between £10m and £15m. Related advance customer receipts for this period are £22m. The group continues to have significant available liquidity, underpinned by a £100m undrawn revolving credit facility, £33m of cash at the end of February and the strong cash generation of the insurance business. As previously noted, the insurance business is not expected to be significantly impacted by COVID-19 and has had a good start to the current financial year. The two disposals recently announced are also expected to generate an additional £37m of cash proceeds in the first half.”
• Spire (healthcare) – “Today announces that following a meeting with NHS England and representatives from across the private sector to discuss future COVID-19 planning, Spire Healthcare has been asked for, and has offered, its support to the NHS during this challenging time. The exact nature, extent and the timing of this support is yet to be determined.”
• Xerox – “In light of the escalating COVID-19 pandemic, Xerox needs to prioritise the health and safety of its employees, customers, partners and affiliates over and above all other considerations, including its proposal to acquire HP. As we closely monitor reports from government and healthcare leaders across the globe and work with colleagues in the business community to minimise the spread and impact of the virus, we believe it is prudent to postpone releases of additional presentations, interviews with media and meetings with HP shareholders so we can focus our time and resources on protecting Xerox’s various stakeholders from the pandemic. For the avoidance of doubt, Xerox does not consider the market decline since the date of its offer or the temporary suspension of trading in HP shares that occurred on March 10, 2020 and March 12, 2020 as a result of market-wide circuit breakers procedures to constitute a failure of any condition to its offer to acquire HP. Xerox will take the same view on any future temporary trading halts, unless otherwise stated in advance.”
• British Airways – Chief Executive Alex Cruz has told staff there will be job cuts as the airline industry is facing a “crisis of global proportions like no other”, the carrier will also suspend routes and ground aircraft because of the pandemic.
#Corporate client of Peel Hunt
• All elite football in England, Scotland and Wales has been suspended until at least 3 April as a result of the spread of coronavirus. All Premier League games, EFL fixtures and matches in the FA Women's Super League and Women's Championship have been postponed.
• The Players Championship in Florida has been cancelled after one round, with organisers saying it was “the right thing to do” in order to safeguard against the spread of coronavirus. The PGA Tour has stopped all play until the Valero Texas Open on 2 April.
• All UEFA competitions, including the Champions League and Europa League matches, due to be played on 17 and 18 March, have been postponed.
• The Australian Grand Prix has been cancelled.
• The National Hockey League (NHL) will pause its 2019-20 season. This now means all major US sports leagues have been postponed.
• London's St Patrick's Day parade and celebrations this Sunday have been cancelled.
• England Test series in Sri Lanka called-off.
• New York has postponed its annual St Patrick's Day parade.
• Start of the Giro d’Italia has been postponed
• Golf's Masters championship has been postponed. The first men's major championship of the year was due to begin on 9 April at Augusta National in Georgia, US.
• France to close all schools and universities beginning Monday 16 March. Employers urged to let staff work from home. Announced a ban on public gatherings with more than 100 people in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
• The Czech Republic has banned citizens of 15 countries – China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, Spain, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, the UK, Denmark and France from midnight on Friday and banned non-essential travel for Czech citizens and residents. They have also banned all events attended by over 30 people and all bars, restaurants and pubs must now close from 20:00 to 06:00 local time.
• Slovakia is closing its borders to all foreigners except those with a residence permit.
• Disney will close its theme parks in Florida and Paris from Sunday due to the coronavirus. The parks will close until at least the end of the month. Disney Cruise Line will also suspend all departures from Saturday.
• Israel is closing all schools and universities as of today.
• Six US states are closing some or all of their schools: Oregon, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Michigan and New Mexico.
• The German states of Bavaria and Saarland are closing schools until the end of the Easter holidays in late April. Berlin will also start closing its schools next week.
• The Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Karnataka have closed schools and colleges.
• Belgium's government has ordered schools, cafes, restaurants and some shops to close due to the coronavirus. All recreational, sporting and cultural events have been cancelled and everyone is advised to work from home if possible.
• The Van Gogh museum and the Rijksmuseum in the Dutch capital Amsterdam are to close until the end of March.
• New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art will temporarily close.
• Argentina suspends flights from all European countries for 30 days, as well as the US, China, Iran, Japan and South Korea.
• Peru has suspended all flights from Europe and Asia for an unspecified period of time.
• Paraguay is cancelling all direct flights to and from Europe until 26 March.
• Venezuela had already suspended all flights from Europe for a month.
• The UK Foreign Office has advised against all but essential travel to five areas in Spain. Madrid, La Rioja, and the municipalities of La Bastida, Vitoria and Miranda de Ebro.
• Germany is to offer unlimited loans to businesses.
• Disney has delayed three releases: Mulan, New Mutants and Antlers.
• Fast and Furious has been delayed until April 2021.
• A Quiet Place 2 has been delayed.
• Mission Impossible 7 – filming postponed (was due to shoot in Venice).
• The Prince of Wales and his wife the Duchess of Cornwall have postponed their spring tour to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus and Jordan.
• Romania’s entire government goes into quarantine – Prime Minister Ludovic Orban and the entire 17-member cabinet have been placed in quarantine, after a senator from their National Liberal Party, tested positive for coronavirus