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The world’s biggest spirit maker, Diageo, is in desperate need of a tonic as it revealed it could take a hit of up to £200 million due to the coronavirus epidemic.
The drinks giant, which makes a host of well-loved brands, from Johnnie Walker to Smirnoff, said the epidemic will reduce its net sales by up to £325m and its operating profits by up to £200m this year. The news sent its share price slumping by five per cent, now standing at 2,820p at the time of writing.
Diageo said its bottom line had been hit dramatically by the wave of restaurant and bar closures and cancelled events and weddings across Asia. The hiatus on travel in the wake of the virus spread has also affected its drinks sales at airports and the drinks maker said it had seen ‘significant disruption’ since January which it expects to last until the end of March.
Some analysts think the firms woes could continue for longer than that though with Neil Wilson from Markets.com saying: “The problem is for the likes of Diageo is that once the consumption picks up again in affected regions in China and beyond, you don’t then go and buy two bottles of Scotch instead of your normal one.”
Others are more optimistic though, believing the current price is a good entry point for investors as the longevity of Diageo’s brands and its prospective dividend yield of 2.6 per cent could help it weather the storm in the long-term.
Luxury carmaker, Aston Martin’s share price has crashed 15 per cent as it revealed a £104.3m loss before tax.
The firm also issued a warning about the potential impact that coronavirus could have on its supply chain, especially as the Chinese market posted a 28 per cent growth last year. In a further blow, the firm announced that chief finance officer, Mark Wilson, would step down by the 30 April.
It has been a tough year for Aston Martin, despite temporary respite when it was announced that F1 billionaire Lawrence Stroll would take a 16.7 per cent stake in the company. Chief Executive and president, Andy Palmer, said that despite the desultory results the carmaker has “revised our business plan to reset, stabilise and de-risk the business, positioning it for controlled, long-term profitable growth.”
Analysts are not convinced though with Brewin Dolphin pointing out that the coronavirus outbreak could not have come at a worse time as the Chinese growth was one of the few bright spots for Aston Martin. David Madden from CMC Markets added on the subject of Wilson’s departure that it “is likely to be a contributing factor in the decline of the Aston Martin share price as it is not a good look for the group, especially in light of the worsening financial position”.
Advertising giant, WPP, has reported a similarly bleak outlook, seeing its share price slump by 17 per cent, their biggest fall in almost three decades.
The global advertising firm reported a 22 per cent drop in pre tax profits to £982m last year, and its share price now stands at 761.60p at the time of writing. The agency, which is in the middle of a three-year turnaround plan, said it is too soon to gauge the impact of coronavirus on its business, but it forecasts no change to revenues in 2020.
Analysts are not reading too much into WPP’s disappointing results, instead agreeing that the group is at the whim of global markets. Citi analysts described the update as “marginally disappointing” but said coronavirus was a ‘sword of Damocles” hanging over the markets. Hargreaves Lansdowne, however, were less optimistic about WPP’s update, pointing out that the shares trade on 9.8 times expected earnings, well below an average of 12.3, suggesting a recovery in revenues looks further away than everyone had hoped.
Whether or not this latest update is just the result of short-term economic headwinds or a sign of trouble ahead for the advertising giant remains to be seen but investors are likely to be concerned by this share price tumble.
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