March 9, 2020

Earnings Calls: What are Companies Saying About the Coronavirus?

I guess we can add earnings calls to the ever-growing list of things that the coronavirus outbreak has thrown a giant monkeywrench into. This recent article from “CFO Dive” says that public company CFOs have been scrambling to explain the potential impact of the outbreak on their company’s bottom line during recent earnings calls. This excerpt provides some examples of what BigTech has been saying:

As of last week, references to coronavirus have been made over 8,000 times across over 1,000 companies on earnings call transcripts, natural language processing company Amenity Analytics found,

Apple led the pack as the first corporate giant to state that it wouldn’t meet its Q1 revenue projections due to the virus, which originated late last year in Wuhan, China. iPhones, which are manufactured in China, have experienced limited production and reduced domestic demand, Apple announced on February 17.

Microsoft soon after followed suit. “Although we see strong demand … the supply chain is returning to normal operations at a slower pace than anticipated at the time of our Q2 earnings call,” the company said last week. “As a result, for the third quarter of fiscal year 2020, we do not expect to meet our More Personal Computing segment guidance as Windows OEM and Surface are more negatively impacted than previously anticipated.”

The article also features commentary on the outbreak’s earnings impact from companies across a range of industries, including financial services, hospitality, retail, and consumer products. Spoiler alert: the news is not good.

Upcoming Webcast: “The Coronavirus – What Should Your Company Do Now?”

We’ve blogged so much & posted so many memos on the implications of the coronavirus outbreak that I’m starting to think that we should change our name to “” But there’s no getting around the fact that this is a very big deal. In addition to its tragic & rising human cost, the COVID-19 outbreak has disrupted global supply chains, staggered financial markets, and created huge uncertainties for businesses and investors.

Those disruptions & uncertainties have important implications for public companies and those who advise them. That’s why we’ve just calendared a webcast – “The Coronavirus – What Should Your Company Do Now?” – for Thursday, March 19th. The webcast features Davis Polk’s Ning Chiu, WilmerHale’s Meredith Cross, Uber’s Keir Gumbs and our own Dave Lynn. The panelists will tackle some of the key issues confronting public companies & their lawyers as a result of this ongoing international public health emergency.

Tomorrow’s Webcast: Conduct of the Annual Meeting

Tune in tomorrow for the webcast – “Conduct of the Annual Meeting” – to hear McDonald’s Jennifer Card, Independent Inspector of Elections Carl Hagberg, and GE’s Brandon Smith talk about annual meeting logistics, dealing with the media, preparing officers & directors, rules of conduct, disruptive shareholders, tabulation issues and meeting post-mortems.

John Jenkins