2020年1月29日 星期三

DealBook: How the Coronavirus Could Hurt Apple and Starbucks

Corporations are bracing for the repercussions of the outbreak, with major retailers closing stores and airlines cutting flights to and from the country.
 
 
January 29, 2020
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An Apple store in Wuhan, China, now the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, in 2014.
An Apple store in Wuhan, China, now the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, in 2014.  Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Businesses try to defend against coronavirus
More companies are temporarily halting business in parts of China, as the outbreak spreads and the fear of contagion rises.
Here’s the latest:
• British Airways suspended flights to and from mainland China. Cathay Pacific and United Airlines have reduced the number of flights.
• Starbucks closed more than half of its stores in the country, its second-biggest market.
• The owner of Uniqlo has closed about 100 stores in the affected Hubei Province.
Apple said the outbreak could affect its financial forecasts. Tim Cook, its C.E.O., told analysts yesterday that suppliers could be disrupted and that traffic to its stores in China had dropped.
The moves come as the disease’s toll continues to grow. The death tally as of this morning was 132 — up from 106 yesterday — and the number of cases jumped 25 percent, to 5,974. And more cases are being reported of people in other countries falling ill, despite having not visited China.
Markets offered a mixed reaction. Hong Kong stocks fell today, their first day of trading after the Lunar New Year holiday. But S&P futures are indicating a positive opening in the U.S.
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Today’s DealBook Briefing was written by Andrew Ross Sorkin in New York and Michael J. de la Merced in London.
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Huawei offices in Reading, England.
Huawei offices in Reading, England.  Daniel Leal-Olivas/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
U.K. deals a blow to Trump’s fight against Huawei
Britain, defying calls from the White House to block Huawei products, said it would not ban the Chinese company from being used in its new high-speed 5G wireless network.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson allowed Huawei technology to be used in some parts of Britain’s 5G infrastructure, though not in essential ones. And “high risk” vendors who pose potential security risks wouldn’t be allowed to hold more than 35 percent of the country’s overall network.
The decision dismissed the Trump administration’s claims that using Huawei products could compromise the security of 5G systems.
Britain is in a tough position: Washington threatened to withhold intelligence if London allowed Huawei into the country’s 5G network, while China threatened economic retaliation if it didn’t.
The decision could embolden other countries to use Huawei. Canada and Germany are set to decide this year on whether to block the Chinese company.
A Trump administration official said the U.S. was “disappointed” by the move and would work with Britain “on a way forward that results in the exclusion of untrusted vendor components from 5G networks.”
Jay Powell, the Fed chairman.
Jay Powell, the Fed chairman.  Lexey Swall for The New York Times
Jay Powell is back in the spotlight
The Fed is expected to announce a decision on interest rates today after the end of its latest board meeting. That will again put the focus on Mr. Powell, the chairman, who continues to face pressure from President Trump as he steers the central bank, Jeanna Smialek of the NYT writes.
• “Everything about him, from the simple language he uses at news conferences to his demeanor on Capitol Hill, conveys that he is relatable, ordinary and decidedly undramatic,” Ms. Smialek writes of the Fed chairman.
• His quiet approach “is part of a deeper strategy by Mr. Powell, who is trying to convince America that the Fed is a collection of nonpartisan public servants focused on serving the American people — not a temple of elites wielding unchecked power.”
• “To shore up support, Mr. Powell visits Capitol Hill frequently, holding more than 260 meetings with members of Congress since taking over as chair in February 2018.”
That approach is repeatedly tested by Mr. Trump’s criticism that the Fed has kept interest rates too high. Yesterday, the president tweeted that the central bank “should get smart” and lower rates.
But Mr. Powell and the Fed are expected to keep rates steady and to continue to do so until the economic picture changes.
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A new front in the U.S. fight against research theft
Prosecutors arrested Charles Lieber, a top scientist at Harvard, charging him with concealing financial ties to China. It’s an escalation in a campaign to stamp out the stealing of secrets from U.S. universities, Ellen Barry of the NYT writes.
• Dr. Lieber, who specializes in nanoscale electronics, is not accused of sharing sensitive information with Chinese officials. But he was charged with hiding how much money Chinese funders were paying him. (It was tens of thousands of dollars a year, according to prosecutors.)
• He was ensnared in a two-year push by the Justice Department to find individuals at U.S. universities working with the Chinese government. Massachusetts, with its many universities, is a “target-rich” environment, according to the special agent in charge of the F.B.I.’s Boston field office.
• The drive has meant “researchers are adjusting to a higher level of scrutiny about foreign funding than they faced in the past,” Ms. Barry writes.
Cyrus Taraporevala, the C.E.O. of State Street Global Advisors.
Cyrus Taraporevala, the C.E.O. of State Street Global Advisors.  Sean Smith for The New York Times
Another firm joins the push for climate action and social change
The money-management firm State Street plans to vote against directors of companies in major stock indexes that fall behind targets for environmental, social and governance changes.
“We see that shareholder value is increasingly being driven by issues such as climate change, labor practices and consumer product safety,” Cyrus Taraporevala, the C.E.O. of the firm’s investment management arm, wrote in a letter to corporate boards.
State Street will start its campaign with companies in the S&P 500 and in major European indexes, and then broaden the effort in 2022.
The decision matters, given State Street’s size. Its Global Advisors division oversees $3.1 trillion in assets and is a major investor in companies around the world.
The big picture: Increasingly, huge money managers are using their influence to push for changes beyond financial performance. BlackRock, which has over $7 trillion in assets, said this month that it would make climate change a key investment focus.
Goldman Sachs's investor day probably won't look like this. 
Goldman Sachs's investor day probably won't look like this.   Trevor Hunnicutt/Reuters
Goldman prepares to showcase its new look
Today brings a first for the 151-year-old bank: an “investor day” for shareholders, as well as for analysts, the news media and even regulators.
The event is an attempt to promote a more open image for a company that has traditionally been known as a secretive black box of profits and “an adrenaline-fueled sales-and-trading juggernaut,” Kate Kelly of the NYT writes.
Goldman’s C.E.O., David Solomon, will argue that the bank has evolved. The firm has jumped into retail banking and credit cards, for example, and it does more mundane tasks like manage cash for corporations.
But some executives reportedly think the firm is trying too hard. “They want the investor day to focus more on places where Goldman actually makes money,” Laura Noonan of the FT writes, citing unnamed sources.
Mr. Solomon has his work cut out. Goldman “is to some extent grasping at straws strategically,” one investor specializing in financial stocks told Ms. Noonan.
The speed read
Deals
• The investment firm Platinum Equity has reportedly tried to poach Joe Ianniello, the head of CBS, to lead its takeover bid for Univision. (WSJ)
• Two big investors in Deliveroo, the food delivery service, accused British regulators of chilling Britain’s start-up economy by holding up Amazon investment in the company. (FT)
• The European Union’s banking authority is encouraging the Continent’s lenders to merge to get stronger. (WSJ)
Politics and policy
• The U.S. deficit is expected to hit $1.7 trillion by 2030, according to the Congressional Budget Office. (NYT)
• House Democrats are expected to unveil a $760 billion infrastructure investment plan today, with a focus on climate change. (Politico)
• Portugal plans to end tax breaks that made the country attractive for wealthy foreigners. (FT)
Tech
• Apple beat expectations for its most recent financial quarter, thanks to brisk sales of the latest iPhone and AirPods. (NYT)
• Facebook has unveiled a tool that lets users see how the company is tracking their online lives — even outside the company’s apps. (WaPo)
• Bitcoin’s mainstream popularity has dropped. But its appeal to criminals hasn’t. (NYT)
Best of the rest
• Nike denied news reports that it had withdrawn Kobe Bryant merchandise from its website. The products, a spokesman said, simply sold out. (CNBC)
• The Massachusetts authorities fined Chipotle $1.4 million for what they said were violations of child labor laws. (NYT)
• The online shoe seller Zappos has quietly backed away from the often-criticized, decentralized management style known as holacracy. (Quartz)
Thanks for reading! We’ll see you tomorrow.
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