Is it possible that Earnings Season, just became meaningless?
We live in a financial world, where little catches us by surprise. Sophisticated computer models, tell us for months in advance, just what to expect.
Analysts spend hours studying various companies, checking with management, to make sure that their projections on sales, earnings, and all the financial variables will come in exactly as predicted.
In fact, I can't remember the last time that there was as much potential for disruption as there is right now.
This week we will see about 1/3rd of the major S&P 5000 companies report their last quarter results and give guidance on what they see ahead.
Now the earnings are already done. That's all history, and it ended last December 31st.
But the guidance, well that's a different matter entirely.
As you know, we have been carefully following the developments in the spread of the Coronavirus, 2019 n-CoV. Over the past week, we have seen this new, novel virus infect literally thousands of residents in China and most, unfortunately, kill dozens.
Yesterday, the Virus took the next big step in this developing event. It now directly impacted the economy of Wuhan, the city it originated in, and the surrounding region.
In fact, it is no exaggeration to say that the Coronavirus is now having an international economic impact.
On Monday, Chinese officials ordered the closing of major manufacturing plants, not only in Wuhan but also in neighboring Suzhou.
Wuhan is a major international production center, with an estimated 5,700 foreign enterprises operating in Wuhan. But if anything, Suzhou is an even larger hub of international manufacturing plants.
Some of the major American companies with facilities in Suzhou include: Caterpillar Tractor, Fairchild Semiconductor, Nokia and Honeywell among many many others.
Yesterday, Chinese officials closed all plants operating in Suzhou. The impact of this decision will no doubt be felt around the world. And especially for those foreign companies operating there.
Today our attention will be focused on 2 companies: Pfizer and Apple computer. Both companies provide their quarterly results today. And as we indicated the results are not an issue here. They are what they are. The books were closed at the end of the year, and reporting on that will be very straight forward.
But what won't be straight forward is the forward guidance. Just what will be the impact of these plant closings?
For Pfizer, which makes such well-known drugs as Zolof, Norvasc, Lyrica, and Lipitor. There is liable to be significant disruption in any of those drugs manufactured in Suzhou. A disruption that could affect patient prescriptions in the coming months.
Apple too, is facing disruption in their delivery, primarily of the iPhones. The notice indicated that the Foxcomm Facilities would be closed, at least for a week.
It is not yet clear, which if any of the Foxcomm facilities outside Suzhou will also be closed. That would likely be determined by the progress of the disease.
However this evolves from here, you can't bet that there more than a few sleepless nights on Wall Street,
There is nothing that the Street hates more than the uncertainty that surrounds a major catastrophe like the Coronavirus.