Earnings Season. Alphabet, Pfizer, Merck, Novartis, PepsiCo, HSBC, Starbucks, 3M Company, BP Plc, Banco Santander, ABB Ltd and UBS Group are among companies reporting their results today.
Good results. 3M suspended its 2020 guidance due to the economic uncertainties related to the coronavirus pandemic but reported a better than expected net profit for the first quarter, thanks in part to a doubling of its production of N95 respirators. Merck & Co reported a higher than expected quarterly profit thanks to demand for its cancer drug Keytruda. Pfizer reaffirmed its 2020 forecast after a better than expected first quarter, thanks in part to the growth in sales of its anticancer drug Ibrance and its anticoagulant Eliquis. ABB Ltd, the Swiss industrialist, exceeded expectations in the first quarter, even though the impact of Covid-19 is already visible. Novartis: The pharmaceutical sector, moreover in Switzerland, is confirming its role as a shock absorber in these complicated circumstances, with Novartis sales growing by 13% at constant exchange rates in the first quarter of 2020 to reach $12.28 billion. Basic net income jumps to $3.55 billion, exceeding expectations. Targets have been adjusted to reflect the continued consolidation of certain Sandoz businesses in the US. UBS Group: The bank had a good start to the year, with net income up 40% to $1.6 billion in Q1. The bank is obviously not immune to Covid-19, and management is relatively confident in Switzerland's ability to weather the storm.
HSBC not out of the woods. HSBC published lower than expected first-reading earnings, with $3bn of estimated credit losses in Q1. Q1 net income was down 57% to $1.785bn. The bank, which had announced a vast job-cutting plan before the Covid-19 crisis erupted, said it was suspending its program so as not to place its future ex-employees in difficulty.
Big contract for Nokia. Nokia has won a contract valued at around $1bn with India's main telecom operator, Airtel, to expand its network capacity and prepare for the future, particularly 5G. Deployment is expected to be completed by 2022.
In the automotive sector. Detroit-based American carmakers (General Motors, Ford, Fiat Chrysler) are expected to resume production on May 18, according to the Wall Street Journal. Unsurprisingly, General Motors announced yesterday the suspension of its quarterly dividend. The Tesla share, for its part, experienced a sharp rise in trading on rumors of an imminent resumption of work at the group's California plant.
In the airline industry. Airlines are moving towards a mask-wearing obligation for travelers who still use airplanes. Boeing CEO David Calhoun fears that it will be two or three years before air traffic really bounces back. The manufacturer will resume production of the B787. British Airways (International Consolidated Airlines) could cut 800 pilot positions, according to rumors in the media. According to Business Insider, Lufthansa could be on the verge of obtaining a €9 billion support plan from the German authorities. Southwest Airlines is posting its first quarterly net loss in nine years, but is reducing its cash burn before a very complicated second quarter.
A watered-down operation? Blackstone may not complete the $1.36bn buyout of Dutch bank NIBC due to doubts about the green light from the competition authorities and NIBC's decision not to pay a dividend.
Pepsi is abandoning its objectives. PepsiCo reported higher-than-expected quarterly revenues, while net income declined. The group is abandoning its 2020 guidance due to uncertainties related to the coronavirus pandemic.
In other news. The Australian bank Westpac Banking is taking a provision of A$2.24 billion (US$1.45 billion) because of the coronavirus. Alpiq strengthens its activities in Northern Europe. ThyssenKrupp will restructure its automotive business in Germany, resulting in the loss of 490 jobs, in particular due to the closure of the Olpe site. ADC Therapeutics is preparing for a listing on the New York Stock Exchange. Keurig Dr Pepper reports a slight acceleration in sales due to containment.