By Francesca Fontana
Occidental Petroleum Corp.
The novel coronavirus is suppressing demand for oil as the industry weathers a price war. In response, Occidental Petroleum said Tuesday it will slash spending and dividends, an example of the threat collapsing oil prices pose for the industry. Companies with high debt levels like Occidental, which bought rival Anadarko Petroleum Corp. for $38 billion last year, are particularly vulnerable because Wall Street isn't inclined to rescue them. Shares in Occidental gained 15% Tuesday following the announcement.
Some Amazon sellers have been taking advantage of coronavirus panic. The retail giant has been battling fake products and price-gouging as anxious shoppers turn online for face masks, hand sanitizer and other products that are becoming hard to find amid the growing outbreak, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. Amazon has said it has removed 530,000 offers and suspended 2,500 accounts because of coronavirus-related price gouging, and removed millions of products that make unsupported claims about the coronavirus. Other online marketplaces such as eBay Inc. and Facebook Inc. have featured similarly high prices and questionable products targeting the outbreak. Amazon.com shares fell 3.8% Wednesday.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV
Italy's coronavirus outbreak has started to hit that country's big manufacturers. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said Wednesday it will lower production and boost efforts in its Italian factories to contain the spread of the virus, including intensive sanitization of work and rest areas, changing rooms and washrooms. The auto giant has factories across Italy, including several in the northwest part of the country, which has been hardest hit by the virus. Since last month, the company has asked most office-based employees to work from home and it says all administrative work has proceeded as normal. Shares fell 3.6% Wednesday.
American Airlines Group Inc.
Airlines are cutting flights, parking planes, freezing hiring and reducing executive pay in response to the coronavirus pandemic. American Airlines said it plans to cut domestic flying by 7.5% and reduce international flying by 10% for the summer peak travel season. Coronavirus's rapid impact on demand has sent airlines reeling, and the companies are preparing for the prospect that recovery could take months, rather than the quick bounceback many first anticipated. To reduce costs, airlines have frozen hiring and have started offering voluntary unpaid leave to employees. American Airlines shares added 15% Tuesday.
Princess Cruises canceled all its voyages for the next two months and will cut short some current trips, after two of its ships suffered coronavirus outbreaks. The Carnival-owned cruise line is the first ocean carrier to suspend sailings as a result of the new coronavirus. The suspension applies to voyages departing March 12 to May 10, Princess said Thursday. Current trips with less than five days remaining will continue, but those extending beyond March 17 will be cut short. The cruise operator and the industry, along with much of the travel sector, has suffered from the fallout from the pandemic. Carnival shares fell 31% Thursday.
Live Nation Entertainment Inc.
The concert industry is bracing for a rough year as coronavirus stands to threaten its critical summer season. Live Nation Entertainment, the world's largest concert promoter, and rival Anschutz Entertainment Group are postponing shows at arenas, The Wall Street Journal reported late Thursday. Seattle and San Francisco have banned gatherings of more than 250 and 1,000 people, respectively. California has banned public events with more than 250 people and New York state has banned gatherings of more than 500. Earlier this week, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, initially slated for April, was postponed six months, while big-name artists such as and Cher have called off tours. Shares gained 18% Friday.
Bank of America Corp.
Calming words from leaders of the biggest U.S. banks failed to reassure investors as the stock market officially entered bear territory. During a White House meeting with President Trump on Wednesday, attendees from Bank of America, Citigroup Inc. and others said the banks are in good shape despite the recent market turmoil, which has hit bank stocks especially hard. The meeting failed to halt investor doubts, and Bank of America shares fell 9.5% Thursday.
Walt Disney Co.
The happiest place on Earth is shutting down as coronavirus spreads. Walt Disney announced late Thursday it is closing its Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Paris through the end of the month amid widespread cancellations of sporting events and other public gatherings. Earlier that day, California imposed a ban on public gatherings of more than 250, exempting movie theaters, theme parks and casinos. Disney is also suspending new departures for its Disney Cruise Line beginning Saturday and lasting at least until the end of the month. The company said it will monitor the ongoing situation and will continue to pay cast members during this time. Disney shares added 12% Friday.
Not everyone can work from home. As other companies ask employees to work remotely, U.S. food service workers at chains like Starbucks risk exposure to the novel coronavirus and face pressure to keep stores cleaner than ever to reassure customers. Starbucks said Wednesday it would pay any U.S. workers in a 14-day quarantine after exposure to the coronavirus, as well as all employees who are over 60 years old, pregnant or have underlying health conditions. The pandemic is already weighing on Starbucks's bottom line after the company temporarily shut down or limited hours at stores abroad. Starbucks shares fell 9.1% Thursday.
Xerox Holdings Corp.
Xerox is taking a pause in its campaign to take over HP Inc., a sign that the coronavirus pandemic is affecting deal making. The company said Friday that it is postponing additional presentations, interviews with the press and meetings with HP shareholders. "In light of the escalating Covid-19 pandemic, Xerox needs to prioritize health and safety of its employees, customers, partners and affiliates over and above all considerations, including its proposal to acquire HP," Xerox Vice Chairman and Chief Executive John Visentin said. Both companies' shares have fallen this year as equities plunged into the bear market on coronavirus concerns. Xerox shares gained 0.3% Friday.
The European Union is reviving an alliance formed last year with U.S. tech companies to combat online political disinformation. The new focus: false information about the coronavirus. The European Commission, the bloc's executive body, has renewed a self-reporting system it created with Facebook, Alphabet Inc.'s Google, Microsoft Corp., Twitter Inc. and Mozilla Corp. to ensure that measures against disinformation about the novel coronavirus are shared quickly with the commission. The tech companies promised to take down content deemed harmful to public health and to prominently place messages from national health authorities and the World Health Organization. Facebook shares fell 9.3% Thursday.
Broadcom pulled its financial projections for the year, citing uncertainty around the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, the chip maker offered a revenue forecast for the current quarter, saying it expected revenue to come in at about $5.7 billion, falling short of analysts' projections. Apple Inc., which accounted for roughly 20% of Broadcom's revenue last year, warned last month that it would likely fall short of quarterly revenue projections due to the coronavirus outbreak. Broadcom also said Thursday that it would push debt payments to the second half of the year or earlier if conditions improve, having previously pledged to pay down about $4 billion in debt. Shares fell 11% Thursday.
Slack Technologies Inc.
The spreading coronavirus could be good for Slack. The company said late Thursday that the global fallout from the pandemic is resulting in a surge of interest in its workplace-collaboration software, though the impact isn't reflected in its fiscal 2020 earnings. Slack is seeing a rush in free use of its service, but a global slowdown in travel over virus concerns could make it harder to close new deals, said Allen Shim, the company's chief financial officer. Slack's earnings outlook reflected that uncertainty, Mr. Shim said. Shares fell 8.2% Friday.
LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE
First China's coronavirus outbreak weighed on demand for luxury goods. Now Italy's outbreak could weigh on production. Companies such as LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton are straining to keep factories open in the country while adopting precautionary measures to fight the spread of the disease in its ranks. The makers of luxury goods are providing workers with protective gear, closing workplace cafeterias and warning employees to keep their distance from each other. Louis Vuitton, owned by LVMH, has kept open its global shoe factory in the Venice region, site of one of Italy's biggest disease clusters. American depositary shares of LVMH fell 6.3% Wednesday.