As the Dow Jones Industrial Average is in the midst of what could be its worst weekly decline since the financial crisis amid concerns regarding the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, many of the companies that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average are preparing for potential workplace disruptions.
As of Thursday, there were 82,550 cases of the coronavirus worldwide and 2,810 deaths caused by the illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed Wednesday night that an individual in California had tested positive for COVID-19, despite not having traveled to an affected country or been in known contact with someone else who had contracted the virus.
Altogether, there are 60 cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., including 45 people who were repatriated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that docked in Japan and from Wuhan, China, which is considered the epicenter of the outbreak.
Earlier this week, the CDC advised schools and workplaces to begin developing contingency plans for possible closures because of the outbreak. Many companies have warned that the outbreak will have a material impact on earnings as the coronavirus disrupts supply chains and international travel.
MarketWatch asked the current 30 companies that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -1.69% about how they are preparing for potential workplace closures and whether the outbreak could have a material impact on their earnings.
For company comments beyond the Dow: What other U.S. companies are saying about the coronavirus outbreak
Here is what they said:
3M /zigman2/quotes/205029460/composite MMM -2.99% did not respond to a request from MarketWatch about how the outbreak is affecting its business and what contingency plans it has developed for its workforce. However the company said that it is ramping up production of respirators at manufacturing facilities in the U.S., Asia and Europe in response to global demand.
“3M expects demand for respirators to outpace supply for the foreseeable future,” the company said. “In China and around the world, 3M is working with customers, distributors, government and medical officials to help get supplies where they are most needed. 3M is also closely monitoring and responding to any potential impact on our broader supply chain.”
Apple Inc. /zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite AAPL -1.44% declined to comment. However, in an update to the company’s quarterly guidance released on Feb. 17, the company noted that work is starting to resume in China at its own factories and manufacturing partner sites as they are reopening after being closed. The company noted that return to normal conditions has been slower than anticipated.
“The health and well-being of every person who helps make these products possible is our paramount priority, and we are working in close consultation with our suppliers and public health experts as this ramp continues,” the company said.
Caterpillar /zigman2/quotes/203434128/composite CAT -1.77% had no new information to share, a company spokeswoman told MarketWatch.
Cisco Systems Inc. /zigman2/quotes/209509471/composite CSCO -1.86% said it is “focused on helping reduce the impact of Coronavirus on our customers and employees.” The company noted that its Webex division, which develops and sells online meeting and video conferencing applications, has seen an expanded user base in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Traffic on some of Webex’s routes in China has increased 22 times, while the company has seen between four and five times as many users in Japan, South Korea and Singapore. A company spokeswoman noted that Cisco internally uses Webex technology as well.
“To further support more working from home, we are offering free Webex in impacted countries, alongside unlimited use for our existing customers in these countries. We care about keeping people safe and our thoughts are with all those impacted,” said Sri Srinivasan, senior vice president and general manager for Cisco’s team collaboration group. The company’s existing guidance does not yet reflect any potential supply chain disruptions from the coronavirus.
Coca-Cola Co. /zigman2/quotes/209159848/composite KO -0.27% said it has standing procedures in place to prepare for situations like the coronavirus outbreak, including business continuity and emergency plans. The company has suspended non-essential international travel to and from the Asia-Pacific region and Italy.
The company noted in a statement to MarketWatch that it has taken precautionary measures to protect employees, which include “providing face masks and hand sanitizers, installing temperature screening in offices and manufacturing facilities, as well as setting up health monitoring mechanisms in affected regions.”
New Coronavirus Cases Surge Outside China
As new pockets of infection have emerged outside China, Italy, South Korea and Iran are scrambling to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Photo: Zuma Press
“Those efforts will continue until further notice,” the company said. “As the situation evolves, we will take additional actions as needed to help protect the health and safety of our associates.”
Coca-Cola referred MarketWatch to an update regarding the company’s full-year guidance. The company currently predicts that the novel coronavirus will have an two- to three-point impact to unit case volume and a one- to two-penny impact to earnings per share in the first quarter, however the company said it expects it will achieve its previously-stated 2020 guidance.
Home Depot Inc. /zigman2/quotes/208081807/composite HD -1.44% has put all travel to and from Asia on hold until further notice. Additionally, the company has implemented a 14-day, stay-at-home policy for employees who have returned to the U.S. from Asia within the past two weeks. “This is a very fluid situation and we’re watching it closely. We’ve had a cross-functional team led by our medical and health management group that’s been looking at this from several angles as the situation develops,” a company spokeswoman said.
During an earnings call with investors Tuesday, Home Depot Chairman, CEO and President Craig Menear indicated the company could not yet determine how the illness outbreak would affect the company’s earnings. “Based on what we know today, we couldn’t say that there would be a hit,” Menear said, adding that the company is putting plans in place to mitigate any risk going forward.”
International Business Machines Corp. /zigman2/quotes/203856914/composite IBM -3.33% said it is complying with government regulations related to travel and is asking employees to work from home where it is recommended. The company also said it is deciding whether to participate in large meetings or trade shows “on an individual basis.”