Virus forces more firms to freeze guidance
Beverage bottler Coca-Cola Amatil and aged care provider Estia Health are among the latest ASX-listed firms to suspend earnings guidance amid coronavirus uncertainty.
The pair join the likes of Virgin Australia, Flight Centre and Cochlear to freeze their outlook as the virus sends global markets into a tailspin and wreaks havoc on supply chains.
Coca-Cola Amatil said on Tuesday it was removing expectations for mid-single digit earnings per share growth in 2020 after it first warned of COVID-19 impacts at its February full-year result.
"Since then we have seen a significant escalation of measures taken by governments in each of our markets in an effort to slow the rate of COVID-19 infection," the company told the ASX on Tuesday.
"These are having and will have a myriad of consequences for our customers and our businesses."
Managing director Alison Watkins said the rapid escalation of containment measures and consequent uncertainty comes as the company heads into the important Easter and Ramadan festive trading periods.
Ms Watkins said the Australia and New Zealand grocery channels had grown as consumers stock up in the face of social isolation measures
Declines in On-The-Go channels have, however, been soft following the bushfires in January and will likely accelerate given consumers' preference for staying at home as well as the widespread cancellation of major sporting, entertainment and cultural events.
Amatil's AGM is scheduled for May 26 and online access is being arranged for shareholders.
Estia Health also suspended its 2020 fiscal year guidance and was uncertain of the extent the situation may have on future occupancy, revenue and costs across the company's 69 homes.
"Australia is experiencing an unprecedented public health crisis of unknown dimensions with economic and financial implications that cannot at this point be estimated," Estia said in a statement to the ASX.
Rio Tinto, meanwhile, said that measures to slow the spread of the virus in Mongolia was slowing work to develop underground mining at its Oyu Tolgoi copper mine there.
The mine's open pit was continuing to deliver shipments of copper concentrates to its customers despite the restrictions on goods, however, Rio Tinto said.
Vista Group, which supplies software to the film industry, says it was suspending its dividend and earnings guidance.
"The rapidly evolving nature of this outbreak and each country's response to it are making it difficult to predict the impact it is likely to have on Vista Group's year end position," chief executive Kimbal Riley said.
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