Global giants Apple and BHP have stated this morning that the outbreak of the coronavirus will affect profits this quarter. The warning follows GDP downgrades from Singapore and Thailand yesterday. However ongoing support from authorities in China is keeping market sentiment positive. Shares in Europe rose, and copper and crude oil traded higher despite a holiday in the USA.
Apple scrapped its previous guidance for the first quarter, citing decreased demand in China and disruption to its supply chain. CEO Tim Cook said the return to normal conditions was taking longer than expected.
BHP revealed a 29% lift in half-year profit to US $4.87 billion and an increase in dividend to 65 US cents, fully franked. The stronger than expected result is balanced by caution around the coronavirus, and the global miner said it may cut growth forecasts for the year if the outbreak is not contained in the March quarter.
Retailer Coles reported a 2% lift in profit for the half year on a 3% increase in revenue. The accompanying commentary was also cautious, citing ongoing pressure on its liquor business and delays in sourcing refrigeration equipment from China. Hearing aid manufacturer Cochlear beat estimates to post 23% lift in profit, although underlying profit grew only 0.5%. The company re-iterated previously downgraded guidance for the full year.
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