Signs of life in the RV business; Zoom falls for third day

The outbreak of the coronavirus has dealt a shock to the global economy with unprecedented speed. Following are developments Monday related to the national and global response, the work place and the spread of the virus.


SALES REPORT: The pandemic has affected companies in vastly different ways. Retailers like Target and Walmart became critical lifelines, while others have suffered.

— With production shuttered due to the pandemic, Wall Street was expecting some dire results from the RV company Thor Industries. As it turns out, being locked in has a lot of people thinking about hitting the road.

Not only did Thor avoid losses as most industry analysts had expected, it posted sales of $1.68 billion. Profit and revenues fell sharply, but shares rose sharply on the performance Monday.

“Despite this being one of the most unusual quarters I have ever experienced, I am pleased to report that we were profitable and generated positive net cash from operations, said CEO Bob Martin.

Martin also said people are buying RVs as a second office.

— The first two months of the second quarter have been a mixed bag for International Flavors & Fragrances, which makes ingredients for food, cosmetics and other consumer-focused companies. Sales of products used for packaged food, drinks, hygiene and disinfectant rose 3% compared with a year ago, according to preliminary data.

Sales of goods sold for use in perfumes and restaurants, however, tumbled 40%.

JOBS: The economic fallout from the pandemic may be severe and long lasting. Many had hoped for a rapid return to work, but companies are paring costs, and that includes payroll.

— The paint and coatings maker PPG is implementing a global restructuring plan that includes a buyouts for employees in the U.S. and Canada. The company said Monday that it's looking to reduce amid weakened global economic conditions stemming from the virus outbreak and the related pace of recovery in a few end-use markets.

PPG anticipates its restructuring plan will deliver $160 million to $170 million in cost savings.

— Expectations of an extended recovery have led one of the biggest energy companies in the world to cut ten thousand jobs. BP CEO Bernard Looney said Monday that the cuts, expected mostly this year, will hit office workers hardest. The London-based company has a global workforce of 70,000 people.

GOVERNMENTS & CENTRAL BANKS: Governments are in a balancing act, attempting to reclaim some sense of normality even as COVID-19 hotspots emerge.

— Hong Kong’s two major theme parks are opening for business. Ocean Park, which has been closed since January, opens Saturday. Hong Kong Disneyland will open soon, but hasn't released a specific day.

Hong Kong will also start holding conventions and trade shows in July, starting with its annual book fair, the city’s secretary for commerce and economic development Edward Yau said Monday.

— A two-week quarantine is going into effect for those who travel to Britain.

The vast majority of passengers will be asked to fill in a form detailing where they will self-isolate, starting Monday. Those who fail to comply could be fined.

Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O’Leary says the quarantine will cause “untold devastation” for the country’s tourism industry — not just on the airlines. He told the BBC that hotels, visitor attractions and restaurants will also be hurt, and thousands of jobs will be lost.

— Bars, nightclubs and internet cafes on Monday will be allowed to reopen in Greece, where an early lockdown is credited with keeping the number of coronavirus deaths and serious illnesses at low levels.

Nearly all lockdown measures have now been lifted in a phased reopening, with regulations in place for businesses to maintain limits on the number of customers allowed and distances to be maintained.

MARKETS: Wall Street’s enthusiasm about the reopening economy sent stocks scrambling even higher on Monday, and the Nasdaq composite wiped away the last of its coronavirus-induced losses to set a record.

PANDEMIC INDICATOR?: Shares of Zoom are falling for the third consecutive day as companies explore safe ways to reopen offices. It has been a boom time for the Silicon Valley video conferencing company. The stock hit an all-time high Wednesday, up 227% for the year. Shares are down about 9% since then.

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