269.15 +1.16 (0.43%)
After hours: 7:59PM EDT
|Bid||269.20 x 1400|
|Ask||269.50 x 900|
|Day's range||264.70 - 270.07|
|52-week range||170.27 - 327.85|
|Beta (5Y monthly)||1.17|
|PE ratio (TTM)||21.28|
|Earnings date||29 Apr 2020|
|Forward dividend & yield||3.08 (1.16%)|
|Ex-dividend date||06 Feb 2020|
|1y target est||306.85|
One of the efforts that's been proposed to contain the spread of COVID-19 is a contact trace and track program that would allow health officials to keep better tabs on individuals who have been infected and alert them to potential spread. Contract tracing has already seemingly proven effective in some parts of the world that have managed to curb the coronavirus spread, but privacy advocates have big reservations about any such system's implementation in the U.S. There are a number of proposals of how to implement a contact tracing system that preserves privacy, including a decentralization proposal for a group of European experts.
(Bloomberg) -- One weekend in March, Javier Soltero, a Google vice president, got an email from his team in Europe. Italy’s Minister of Education needed to move the country’s entire school system online, right away, and wanted to know if Google’s software could handle it.Soltero, who leads G Suite, Google’s set of productivity tools, called his technical staff. “Is this even something we can do?” he recalled thinking. Several sleepless days and nights later, millions of Italian kids were learning from home through Google services.As the month wore on, Soltero’s division faced similar surges in country after country. Schools and universities across the globe have rushed online as the coronavirus shut down public life. Many turned to the world’s largest internet company.“We have seen incredible growth,” Soltero said in a recent interview. “It actually mirrors, unfortunately, the ramp up and spread of the disease.”Alphabet Inc.’s Google has jumped ahead of its big technology peers in the education market in recent years by giving away software and aggressively courting teachers. The pandemic is entrenching the tech giant even further. Google Classroom, a free service teachers use to send out assignments and communicate with students, has doubled active users to more than 100 million since the beginning of March. That’s boosting other products. Meet, a videoconferencing app is being used 25 times as much as it was in January, and the broader G Suite for Education offering has 120 million users, up from 90 million a year ago.Google doesn’t charge most schools to use Classroom. The real prize is the millions of young people learning how to use its software. When those students enter the workforce, they’re likely to keep using paid versions, and encourage colleagues to adopt the tools, too.Google Classroom was already popular in the U.S., but demand is now coming from places with few customers before the virus, such as Italy and Indonesia, according to Avni Shah, Google’s vice president for education. “All these places were really lighting up in the last month,” she said.The company’s foothold in schools began around 2014. In the U.S., a new educational standard, called Common Core, was gaining steam and required online assessments. Google flooded schools with Chromebooks, laptops that run on the company’s Chrome operating system. They were cheaper than rival products from Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp., and came with pre-installed Google apps including Gmail, Docs, Slides and Drive. Last year, Google commanded 60% of the market for education computers in the U.S., according to consultant Futuresource.Chromebooks were among the first in schools to connect to the cloud, making it easier for teachers and students to work and keep in touch from anywhere. That helped spread adoption, according to Mike Fisher, a Futuresource associate director.Google Classroom, similarly, is taking off because it’s relatively simple to use and flexible. It competes with dozens of other learning-management systems including Canvas and Edmodo, which let schools upload and track coursework. Classroom syncs with those systems and integrates with other school apps, which, like Google’s, are now booming. And crucially, Google’s product is free, while most competitors charge money for premium features.Makers of e-learning tools rely on portals like Classroom to get inside schools. Quizlet Inc., maker of software for studying, saw new signups jump as much as 400% in China and Italy as the coronavirus spread, said Chief Executive Officer Matthew Glotzbach. About 150 million of Quizlet’s study sessions last year came from Google Classroom, he noted.Google’s offering is also intuitive. Teachers new to remote learning are usually able to upload assignments quickly and launch video calls with little fuss, according to Fisher. “That solution, for the situation we’re in, is perfect,” he said.As schools around the world started closing over the first two weeks of March, Luke Craig, a teacher at Britannia Village Primary School in east London, saw what was coming. Craig and his colleagues used Google Sites, a web page-building tool, to set up a hub for their school and started practicing running classes through Google Classroom. A few days later, schools across the U.K. shut down.Now, Craig’s first-grade students open their Chromebooks and log into Google accounts for lessons. The Google Sites page lays out the plan for the day, and, depending on the subject, they use a variety of apps made by different companies, including Microsoft. Google Classroom is the central hub, allowing students to submit assignments and teachers to track progress. Another Google product, Jamboard, lets teachers create interactive lessons. Some of the kids, as young as 6 years old, have become so proficient they’re making their own videos detailing their assignments, Craig said.Google has experienced some problems bringing millions of students online so quickly. When schools first jumped on its Meet video-conferencing service, some kids figured out they could boot other participants from a call.“Students were kicking the teachers out and carrying on,” Craig said. Google heard the complaints, and fixed the issue quickly. The company has been rapidly building new features, thanks to hundreds of employees who volunteered to help the education team when the coronavirus started spreading widely, Shah said.Craig also warned that students who don’t have as much support from parents, or access to computers and the internet, could fall behind. “Without the face-to-face contact, it’s likely some kids will slip through the cracks,” he said.Google recently pledged to provide internet connections to as many as 100,000 households in California and distribute 4,000 Chromebooks to kids in need. That’s nowhere near enough resources to fill a growing digital divide in education, and doesn’t help Craig’s students in East London.Read more: U.S. Schools Trying to Teach Online Highlight a Digital DivideIn Italy, Google partnered with telecommunications companies so students can use a regular phone line to at least listen in to video conference calls with their teachers. The company designs its apps to work on cheap smartphones and to be used without a wireless connection, Shah said.There are also privacy concerns with so many more children getting online. In February, New Mexico’s attorney general sued Google, claiming the company was breaking child privacy laws by collecting data on students. When kids merge their school Google accounts with their personal ones, data could be synced and logged by Google for commercial purposes, the lawsuit argued. Google disputed the claims. A spokesperson for the company said it never uses student data to target ads, even after kids graduate and become adults.But it’s unlikely privacy concerns will hobble Google’s success during this crisis. Most school districts are desperate to get any online system up and running, ignoring some standard protocols for vetting services, said Douglas Levin, president of EdTech Strategies, a consulting company. “Those have been thrown out the window for expediency’s sake,” he said.Google may even benefit from the privacy failures of other companies. Zoom Video Communications Inc., maker of a suddenly popular video chat service, is now seeing some schools drop it after internet trolls started interrupting online meetings and broadcasting offensive content to participants.Craig has been spending the hours in between classes helping other schools get online. He’s one of thousands of teachers certified by Google to train others how to use the company’s software. The certification program has been a keystone of Google’s expansion, netting the company a group of people who use its products and encourage others to do the same.When schools finally re-open, the education world will be very different. Tech holdouts who resisted internet-based products like Google Classroom will have been forced to use them and adapt. Many schools without a home-learning system will have one. Students lucky enough to have internet at home will have months of experience learning online.“All those technology-phobic people will be no more. They will not go back to their pencil and paper,” said Melissa Matthews, a technology program specialist for the school district of Palm Beach County in Florida. “I don’t foresee Google Classroom getting any fewer users come August when everyone goes back to school.”(Updates with G Suite for Education number in fifth paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- There has been concern for months in Silicon Valley that the eventual Democratic presidential candidate would be someone who wanted to break up large technology companies. Bernie Sanders’s decision Wednesday to end his campaign effectively ends that scenario, leaving a presumptive nominee—former vice president Joe Biden—who is comparatively content with the way Silicon Valley does business.The turn in the primary race corresponds with an upheaval in political priorities due to the Covid-19 crisis. It’s still uncertain how the aftermath of the pandemic will play out, but the political landscape the industry faces in 2020 has almost certainly been transformed over the last six weeks.The primary process first took a hostile turn to the tech industry last spring when Senator Elizabeth Warren proposed a plan to force Amazon.com Inc., Alphabet Inc. and Facebook Inc. to spin off parts of their businesses. Sanders, the democratic socialist senator from Vermont, later said he would “absolutely” aim to break up large technology companies if elected. At the same time, multiple investigations into allegations of anticompetitive behavior from large technology companies were accelerating.For his part, Biden has called it “premature” to call for breaking up companies like Facebook. The former vice president has criticized tech companies and their leaders, particularly Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, telling the New York Times editorial board that he had “never been a big Zuckerberg fan.” In the same interview, Biden suggested revoking Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a law protecting tech companies from legal liability for what their users post. The industry has made defending the law one of its top political priorities.But Biden’s attacks have never provoked the concerns as those from Sanders and Warren. He has deep ties to the tech industry; his former director of communications, Jay Carney, is now Amazon’s top spokesman. Biden has also repeatedly framed his administration as a continuation of the Obama years, and several former Obama officials have set up shop in Silicon Valley.While the tech industry rank-and-file mostly donated to the industry’s antagonists, its executives seemed most excited about younger moderates Pete Buttigieg and Cory Booker. Biden is a happy consolation prize.An open question is who Biden surrounds himself with now that he seems to have locked up the nomination. Neither Warren nor Sanders has endorsed him, and may hold out to push Biden to pick staff supporting their priorities.The anti-tech momentum may also fade because of the coronavirus pandemic. While state and federal antitrust investigations will continue, new antitrust rules will likely take a back seat to more economic rescue legislation. Tech services seem even more vital when large swaths of the population are confined to their houses. And Google, Facebook, Apple Inc., and others have been quick to offer help in various ways.President Donald Trump has been vocally critical of technology companies, and he’s widely unpopular among tech workers. He has regularly called for crackdowns on social media companies and other perceived enemies in the industry. But his top policy achievement, a major corporate tax cut, helped send tech stock prices soaring. (They have since come back down after coronavirus fears have sunk the entire market.) Trump has also seemed to pick favorites among the tech sector, cozying up to Oracle Corp. and Apple, while repeatedly criticizing Amazon and Facebook.Silicon Valley voters generally lean Democratic. But it’s even harder than usual to predict what the upcoming election will look like. Even basic questions about the mechanics of voting remain unresolved. But for now, the things the tech industry was worried about at the beginning of this year seem like a distant memory.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Several Chinese online retailers have offered discounts on Apple Inc's iPhone 11, Reuters checks on Thursday revealed. The price drops come as the hardware company braces for an uncertain year for the smartphone sector, as the global spread of the coronavirus dampens demand while Chinese rivals rush out 5G models. The online store for Suning, a popular Chinese electronics vendor, offers the 64GB version of the iPhone 11 for 4999 yuan ($707.54), a discount of 500 yuan from the price listed on Apple's official China Website.
(Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. is organizing a company-wide virtual meeting for later this month to allow employees to ask questions of the executive team led by Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook.The company sent a note to employees advising them of the plan on Wednesday in the U.S., which Bloomberg News has reviewed. It asked that questions be submitted by end of day on Saturday and also encouraged workers to share their experiences of working through the disruption to daily life that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought about. The specific date of the meeting has not yet been disclosed.Read more: Apple Culture of Secrecy Tested by Employees Working RemotelyApple has had to adapt quickly to a work-from-home culture it previously shunned. The inherent need for security while working on unannounced products has historically made remote work impractical for the iPhone maker’s designers and engineers.Among its measures to smooth out work and life disruptions brought on by the novel coronavirus, Apple has put a particular focus on helping parents cope. The company is “working on options to make sure parents have the support and the flexibility to adjust their schedules as needed,” according to a note to employees from Senior Vice President of Retail and People Deirdre O’Brien. Apple is aware “many parents are balancing homeschooling with working” and is encouraging employees to be open with management about their challenges, O’Brien wrote.The public response to the pandemic from the Cupertino, California-based tech giant has been led by its CEO. Cook has been providing video updates on Apple’s procurement and donation efforts for medical equipment on social media. Putting the company’s supply chain expertise to work, Cook said Apple’s “design, engineering, operations and packaging teams are also working with suppliers to design, produce and ship face shields for medical workers.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Murata Manufacturing Co., which dominates the market for ceramic capacitors, has seen no slack in demand for smartphone parts as manufacturers carry on with their plans for releases of new models despite global coronavirus woes.February and March orders from phone vendors kept up with last year’s levels despite uncertainties around end-user demand, Norio Nakajima, a Murata veteran who is set to take over as president in June, said in an interview on Wednesday. China’s Huawei Technologies Co. and Oppo have not deviated from their road maps laid out before the outbreak, Nakajima said, without naming the companies directly.The pandemic has been a mixed bag for Murata, whose components are found in everything from Apple Inc. iPhones to televisions and automobiles. While the company expects demand from carmakers to crater this year, orders for parts in wireless base stations remained strong as carriers build out their fifth-generation cellular networks. A sudden rise in telecommuting and people stuck at home in quarantine have also led to a spike in demand from data centers and game console makers.“The situation is hard to read, because the drivers are not economic,” Nakajima said, speaking from the company’s headquarters in Kyoto. “A lot depends on the pace of vaccine development and progress in treatment. But so far, the preparations are being carried out same way as last year.”Key InsightsSmartphone companies are still on track to unveil new models in the fall, but the actual sales may slip depending on how the pandemic progresses.Manufacturers typically place orders in June for September launches and bookings usually peak by October. This year the timing may slip.Production in China has mostly recovered from factory closures, with Murata’s own plants in the country operating at 80% capacity.The company is moving ahead with plans to increase output capacity by 10% next fiscal year and has already placed orders for new equipment.Murata’s shares stood largely unchanged in Tokyo on Thursday.Worldwide smartphone shipments are expected to decline 2.3% to 1.3 billion units in 2020 as the Covid-19 outbreak spreads, according to research firm International Data Corp. The outbreak is projected to trigger a 10.6% decline in first-half shipments followed by a recovery from the second half and 5G will help accelerate demand in 2021.“We like the long-term trends surrounding Murata with 5G and electrification of vehicles, but short term there is just too much uncertainty,” said Romeo Alvarez, equity analyst at William O’Neil & Co., who removed Murata from his buy list on March 9. “This was supposed to be the year when 5G goes mainstream. But we are not so sure anymore.”Murata gets about half of its revenue from parts used in communication applications, including capacitors for base stations, bandwidth and noise filters in handsets. Automotive is its second-biggest business division, accounting for about 16% of sales. The company in October forecast 230 billion yen ($2.1 billion) in operating profit on 1.51 trillion yen in sales for the year ended March 31.Nakajima, 58, joined the company in 1985 and spent most of his career in Murata’s module business. He will be taking over from Tsuneo Murata, son of founder Akira Murata, who will continue as chairman.(Updates with share action in the fifth paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Amazon.com Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos made a surprise visit Wednesday to a company warehouse near Dallas, one of more than 100 sites around the U.S. where employees are toiling to meet a surge in online orders from customers sheltering at home.Photos of the world’s wealthiest man donning a face mask, jeans and a button-down shirt circulated on social media. He can be seen walking beneath conveyor belts and beside yellow bins. Some warehouse workers in masks took a moment to get selfies with their boss.Other employees wrote on social media that the executive failed to adhere to social-distancing guidelines put in place to limit the spread of Covid-19. In one image, he is followed closely by another person.Amazon did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the photos. Bezos was in the Dallas area Wednesday, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because they are not authorized to disclose Bezos’s location.Read more: Amazon Warehouse Warned Staff Not to Touch Shipments for 24 HoursBezos has maintained a fairly low profile through the crisis compared to other tech CEOs such as Facebook Inc.’s Mark Zuckerberg and Apple Inc.’s Tim Cook. Bezos posted an MSNBC clip to his Instagram account on Wednesday that heralded an Amazon warehouse worker as its “Hero of the Day.” He also recently announced a $100 million donation to Feeding America to help meet demand for food at a time when donations from restaurants and other shuttered businesses are dropping.Amazon has emerged as an indispensable service during the Covid-19 pandemic. Customers can avoid crowded stores by ordering essentials online, though the retailer is taking weeks to deliver some items and many must-have products including toilet paper and hand sanitizer are out of stock. The company in March announced plans to hire 100,000 workers and give temporary pay bumps to meet surging demand.Amazon employees around the country have staged protests and walkouts to highlight their concerns about working conditions, including a lack of social distancing, protective gear, hand sanitizer and not enough time to clean their hands.The company has said it is enforcing social distancing guidelines in its facilities, checking employee temperatures at the start of shifts and stepping up cleaning. Amazon stresses it has enough masks and hand sanitizer for employees at all its facilities and staff can wash their hands without it jeopardizing their performance. Only a small number of workers have participated in protests, the company has also said.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Apple (AAPL) flashed early warning signs to Wall Street about how the coronavirus might impact companies with exposure to China, and that was all the way back on February 17....
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Smartphones are a daily necessity, weddings will still go ahead, and enterprises will embrace digital upgrades. Those are just some of the justifications that Chinese technology companies such as Xiaomi Corp., Baidu Inc. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. have for telling us that the worst may be behind them as the country gets through the Covid-19 pandemic. That’s a risky tone to take. A global recession is upon us, and they’re not fully taking it in.China is looking at the reopening this week of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, after months of lockdown and seeing it as a sign that things are getting better. The messaging is obvious: China is back in business, and its domestic companies are in the clear.But the rest of the world sees a different picture: New York and Milan resemble ghost towns, Tokyo is facing a state of emergency, Manila is under curfew, and Singapore just banned gatherings. “Smartphone demand is resilient; it’s a daily necessity so demand will rebound quickly,” Xiaomi Corp. Chief Financial Officer Chew Shouzi said in a media teleconference March 31. “We are cautiously optimistic about smartphone demand in overseas markets when the epidemic is controlled.”Overseas markets are not OK. Millions of consumers around the world will be left without the ability to pay rent or buy food. Smartphones aren’t likely to remain on the must-have list.All told, more than 1 billion workers are at risk of a pay cut or losing their jobs, the International Labor Organization warns. In the space of just two weeks, the U.S. stunned economists with a record 10 million people filing for unemployment benefits. That may not seem like much in a world of 7.8 billion, yet America remains the world’s largest economy and each of those now jobless is a consumer who carries a lot more spending power than most global citizens. In China, it’s going to be difficult for even domestically focused enterprises to avoid any impact. While Xiaomi sounds optimistic, its biggest competitor is more cautious. Huawei Technologies Co., which gets more than half its revenue from handsets and mostly at home, recently told reporters that 2020 will be a challenging year but that it’s too early to make a forecast.Tencent Holdings Ltd. has a taken a pragmatic approach to preserving its bottom line as revenue declines: cutting costs. Still, every yuan it’s not spending on marketing is one not flowing to other internet and media companies that depend on advertising sales to run their businesses. The social-media and online-games company is confident it can offset any short-term weakness with a push into new services, like cloud computing.China’s coronavirus outbreak helped boost demand for Tencent’s enterprise products, part of a long-term trend, President Martin Lau told investors last month. While that may be true, it won’t help much if thousands of companies cut staff or even cease to operate.That’s a real possibility. Chinese gross domestic product growth could slow to 1.5% for 2020, pushing the labor market to its toughest situation in 20 years, Wang Tao, chief China economist for UBS AG, said in a note to clients this week. Instead of urban employment growing by 10 million annually as in recent years, the figure may decline by a few million. Downward pressure is likely to continue for China’s international trade, pushing exports down 12% for the full year, she wrote.China remains at the center of global technology manufacturing, and the outlook has deteriorated markedly. Researcher IDC Corp. just cut its 2020 forecast for global information technology spending growth to minus 2.7% from 5.1%. Beyond the drop in economic activity, many purchases will be delayed or cancelled purely due to the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic’s conclusion.Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. posted a 12% drop in first-quarter revenue. The Taiwanese company employs up to 1 million people in China to churn out smartphones, games consoles, servers and consumer electronics. If demand for gadgets like Apple Inc.’s iPhones falls, the need for those workers disappears, and with it their spending power. That same scenario will play out for auto workers, garment makers, and machinery operators.The flow-on effect from declining exports will be unavoidable. As my colleague Anjani Trivedi wrote last week, the country’s stimulus measures are paltry compared to what’s being meted out in the rest of the world.That means domestic consumer markets may not be a haven. Millions fewer people will have the disposable income to shop on Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s Taobao marketplace, or JD.com’s online outlets. They won’t be able to afford games or the products advertised on them, and many will need to tighten their belts when it comes to home delivery or eating out.Chinese technology companies have spent the last few months adjusting to consumers who are stuck spending their money from home. They’ll soon need to grapple with the reality of customers caught with no money to spend at all. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Tim Culpan is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering technology. He previously covered technology for Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Apple's (AAPL) latest effort to fight the coronavirus pandemic includes its offer of a $50-million advanced royalty fund for independent record labels.
(Bloomberg) -- In her WhatsApp group for mothers, Elana Dror is noticing an unusual topic in the morning discussions: where to find eggs.For the past couple weeks, she and other Israeli shoppers have faced a shortage of eggs in supermarkets across the country, thanks to a combination of hoarding and a difficulty importing from key suppliers Italy and Spain, where the coronavirus pandemic is hitting particularly hard. So Israel is launching emergency egg airlifts and expediting shipments to get in enough supply before Wednesday night’s start to the Jewish holiday of Passover.“It’s very difficult to find eggs,” said Dror, chief economist for Israel’s Farmers Association. “Whenever I go to the store now, if I see eggs, I’ll buy.”Eggs are popular symbols at Easter gatherings among Christians this time of year, and they’re also important in the Jewish faith. Passover typically begins with a large family meal, featuring a ritual plate in the table center that includes a hard-cooked egg to symbolize renewal and sacrifice. During the rest of the roughly week-long holiday, leavened foods are prohibited so cooks rely heavily on eggs for everything from breakfast to dessert.Typically Israel produces enough eggs on its own to feed itself, about 9 million per day, according to Dror. But Passover is peak-demand season for the protein, and a rare occasion when the country imports tens of millions of them.With thousands of Israelis at home now rather than on vacation, demand is only rising. Eggs have become so coveted that Ministry of Agriculture officials say they have thwarted attempts to smuggle 12,000 within a single 24-hour window.That could explain the government’s urgency to arrange emergency supplies. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office is working on the egg program, at the same time as he is dealing with the broader crisis and negotiating to form a new government.Officials are now subsidizing egg imports and the first planes full of eggs began arriving this week, with the promise of more than 32 million to arrive by the end of April.Charting the Trade TurmoilToday’s Must ReadsEvidence grows | The breadth of the collapse in the world economy is beginning to appear in the initial trickle of economic data across the world, and the WTO is about to downgrade it’s outlook. U.K. imports | Britain faces disruption to the flow of goods from continental Europe as the virus outbreak squeezes the finances of ferry companies that haul the bulk of trucks and freight. Leaving China | Japan will spend $2.2 billion of economic stimulus to help its manufacturers shift production out of China as the pandemic disrupts supply chains between the trading partners. Retooling a plant | Foxconn, which assembles most of Apple’s iPhones, will aid the fight against coronavirus by developing and making ventilators at the Taiwanese company’s facility in Wisconsin. Supply plea | The EU.’s No. 1 health official asked drug companies to boost output of medicine to treat coronavirus symptoms, warning some member states may soon run out. Bean counters | The world’s biggest roasters of coffee beans are looking to bring forward orders from No. 1 exporter Brazil as a hedge against virus-related port disruptions.Bloomberg AnalysisEconomic outlook | Bloomberg Economics' assessment is that the economy will not come roaring back from a second-quarter swoon in a dramatic “V-shaped” recovery. Downshifting for safety | Some trucking companies will shift spending into neutral to preserve cash. Use the AHOY function to track global commodities trade flows. See BNEF for BloombergNEF’s analysis of clean energy, advanced transport, digital industry, innovative materials, and commodities. Click VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus and here for maps and charts.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Foxconn, the company responsible for assembling most of the world’s Apple Inc. iPhones, will aid the fight against the coronavirus pandemic by developing and making ventilators in the U.S.The Wisconsin plant owned by Foxconn, also known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., will be used to manufacture ventilators, Medtronic Plc Chief Executive Officer Omar Ishrak told CNBC.Foxconn confirmed the partnership in a statement on Wednesday but did not say when it will start making the medical equipment. Evelyn Tsai, spokesperson for founder Terry Gou, said production would take place in Wisconsin and Taiwan.There has been a critical shortage of supply globally for ventilators needed in the treatment of severe cases of Covid-19. Foxconn’s collaboration with Medtronic covers design and development of the devices. Production will start within the next four to six weeks, Ishrak said, without quantifying a volume.Foxconn has been making face masks, used to curb the spread of the virus, in China since February and its subsidiary Sharp Corp. also began churning them out in Japan in late March.The company’s share price was up 5.3% in Taipei on Wednesday. It released better-than-anticipated March-quarter sales numbers on April 6.Fellow Taiwanese tech manufacturing supplier Kinpo Electronics Inc. also announced plans to begin producing coronavirus-fighting medical equipment in the U.S. starting in May.Foxconn’s contract for its Wisconsin plant was signed with great fanfare in late 2017. President Donald Trump, who had helped bring the deal together with the state’s then-governor, Republican Scott Walker, said Foxconn would revitalize U.S. manufacturing and that its massive factory hub would become “the Eighth Wonder of the World.”Since then, the plant-- which was originally intended for making display panels -- has been criticized for delays and changes of direction. The company missed its first-year hiring target by a wide margin, ending 2018 with 178 full-time employees.(Updates with details from founder’s spokesperson in third paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Apple (AAPL) will supposedly acquire California-based virtual reality company NextVR, which is expected to lend a huge impetus to the company's AR/VR efforts.
(Bloomberg) -- When Samsung Electronics Co. brass addressed analysts during its last earnings call, much of the talk revolved around finally turning the corner after years in the doldrums. That was in January, before Covid-19 threw the global economy into a tailspin.Now, executives are struggling to assess the damage. In the short term, Samsung’s most profitable business is riding a surge in online activity from the millions confined to home, driving demand for the memory chips that help power datacenters and cloud services. But should the pandemic persist into the second half -- a worst-case scenario -- the tech giant foresees missing its own 2020 revenue projections by a double-digit percentage, according to people familiar with internal discussions.Samsung unveils preliminary earnings Tuesday, becoming one of the first major technology corporations to paint a picture of how the pandemic impacted the global tech industry in 2020’s first three months. As the world’s largest maker of memory chips, phones, displays and appliances, the Korean giant is exposed to the economic shocks of Covid-19 like few other tech corporations. The novel coronavirus has already forced Korea’s largest company to shut plants from Gumi at home to India, costing Samsung days of lost production. While it’s expected to post first-quarter revenue growth, the question is whether the initial surge in semiconductor demand can offset a hit from what could be the worst global economic shock in at least a generation.“We are truly in uncharted waters as the tech industry in general has continued to grow, perhaps at varying rates, but we haven’t seen a broad-based, global downturn such as we may be in line for,” said Robert Maire, president of Semiconductor Advisors in New York. Chip demand in particular “will likely not be as robust as it could have been as demand for devices that contain semiconductors, such as smartphones, TVs and consumer electronics, will be reduced through negative economic impact.”Foremost among the divisions under scrutiny is the semiconductor unit, which accounts for more than half of operating profits at Samsung. It’s been pounding out memory chips -- the lubricant of the tech industry -- round the clock, essential in datacenters hosting everything from video conferences to e-commerce. But executives and investors worry that prolonged Covid-19 lockdowns may crimp final demand for smartphones and other electronics -- and ultimately deal a serious blow to the chip industry’s nascent recovery.Read more: Apple Tells Staff U.S. Stores to Remain Closed Until Early MaySamsung’s shares have dived more than 20% since their January 2020 peak, depressed by a series of analysts’ price-target cuts. Much of the hit could come this quarter since Covid-19 escalated globally in March. Revenue growth is likely to fall off steeply, according to Eugene Investment & Securities, which projects a 12.3% decline in the June quarter from a forecast for a mere 0.1% increase in the January to March period.Among the analysts that cut price targets was Hana Financial Investment, which also slashed its projection for Samsung’s 2020 smartphone sales from 300 million units to 260 million. It expects OLED panel shipments to plunge 12% to 373 million this year. Now that the Euro 2020 soccer tournament and Tokyo Olympics have been postponed, TrendForce also lowered its market forecast for TV shipments by 5.8% to 205.2 million units, warning that could slip further as the situation worsens in North America and Asia.“The current financial crisis that accompanies the pandemic has produced a lot of uncertainties and could surpass the Financial Crisis of 2007-2008 in scale,” TrendForce said on March 30. “Hence, the general economic outlook for 2H20 could become even gloomier as the pandemic is not expected to be brought under control in the short term.”Read more: Micron Gives Strong Outlook Lifted By Data-Center DemandThat’s a far cry from just a month ago, when Samsung told shareholders the memory market will stabilize this year thanks to upgrades in manufacturing processes, datacenter expansions and the rollout of fifth-generation or 5G wireless networks. Having learned its lesson from previous industry slumps, Samsung was confident it could maintain a balance between supply and demand for memory chips, the people said, asking not to be identified talking about internal deliberations. Their prime concern was avoiding a repeat of the oversupply that triggered a chip price crash in 2019, they said.The industry is still toting up the impact of the pandemic. In a positive scenario, analysts expect pent-up demand for smartphones and sustained use of online learning and work-from-home gear like laptops to engender a soft-landing for Samsung later this year. Just a week ago, Qualcomm Inc. and Western Digital Corp. said they were seeing a recovery in demand from Chinese consumers for phones and computer disk drives. And Micron Technology Inc. has predicted stronger-than-expected revenue.What Bloomberg Intelligence SaysMemory chips are likely in tight supply due to disruptions in obtaining certain raw materials and equipment on the Covid-19 outbreak. This may bolster DRAM and NAND sentiment following rising contract prices in March, supported by rising remote work access needs, despite an extended smartphone shipment slump to 2Q.\- Anthea Lai and Anand SrinivasanClick here for the research.It may well be that the disease will encourage shifts in consumer activity that benefit the industry in the long run, said C.J. Muse, senior managing director at Everscore ISI in New York.“The world is changing,” said Muse. “There is clearly something that, over the long term in this kind of virus world, should be positive, given how our lives are evolving and how important the cloud is to a lot of what we do now and even more than ever.”Read more: ‘Nightmare’ for Global Tech: Virus Fallout Is Just Beginning(Corrects Trendforce’s forecast in seventh paragraph to refer to industry, not Samsung, shipments)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Samsung Electronics Co.’s better-than-expected profit revives hopes that a surge in internet usage from people sheltering in place during the Covid-19 pandemic will help make up for a drop-off in demand for smartphones and other consumer electronics.Shares in Korea’s largest company climbed more than 3% after it posted operating profit of 6.4 trillion won ($5.2 billion) in the March quarter, surpassing the average analyst estimate by 3.6%. Sales rose 5% to 55 trillion won, according to preliminary results released Tuesday. The company didn’t provide net income or break out divisional performance, which it will do later this month when it releases final numbers.Samsung -- one of the first major technology corporations to unveil March quarter results -- demonstrates how the novel coronavirus outbreak is exerting an uneven impact on the global electronics sector in the short term. Soaring online activity from gaming to video streaming is driving sales of semiconductors -- the lubricant for the internet and Samsung’s most profitable business -- even as worsening employment prospects curtail spending on gadgets such as the company’s just-released flagship Galaxy S20.The Asian giant’s solid performance underscores expectations for resilient chip demand since Micron Technology Inc.’s stronger than anticipated outlook. That lifted Asian chipmakers such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Nanya Technology Corp. Much now hinges on whether governments can mitigate the fallout from potentially the worst global economic shock in at least a generation.“Right now, we can only project a picture of the second quarter: soaring demand in server chips may offset slump in display, mobile and consumer electronics,” said Song Myung-sup, analyst at HI Investment & Securities Co. in Seoul. “The problem is, if the Covid-19 pandemic continues further, we can’t guarantee that the uptrend in expansion of servers will be sustainable in the second half of this year.”Samsung’s Symptom-Less Earnings Don’t Make It Immune: Tim CulpanAs the world’s largest maker of memory chips, phones, displays and appliances, Samsung is broadly exposed to the economic shocks of Covid-19. Despite Tuesday’s rally, the company’s shares remain down about a fifth since their January 2020 peak. The better-than-expected result unveiled Tuesday was helped by the South Korean won weakening about 5% against the dollar in the first quarter, lifting the value of income repatriated from overseas.Should the pandemic persist into the second half -- a worst-case scenario -- the tech giant foresees missing its own 2020 revenue projections by a double-digit percentage, according to people familiar with internal discussions. It’s grappling with plant shutdowns and store closures this quarter alongside rivals and customers like Apple Inc. and Huawei Technologies Co. At the same time, memory chipmakers have experienced rising demand and prices for DRAM and flash memory used in data centers and cloud service operators.Read more: Working From Home Gives Chipmakers Boost While Others SufferWhat Bloomberg Intelligence SaysSamsung Electronics’ strong 1Q operating profit beat may affirm rival Micron’s upbeat expectations for memory chip demand, despite the Covid-19 outbreak. DRAM contract prices rose in March after reaching a bottom in December, while those for NAND inched up from late 3Q. Chipmakers’ wafer cuts may tighten supply and restore inventory to normal levels.\- Anthea Lai, analystClick here for the research.Contract prices for 32-gigabyte DRAM server modules rose roughly 12% in the March quarter, according to InSpectrum Tech Inc. Prices for 128-gigabit MLC NAND flash memory chips increased about 5.6% in the first three months of 2020. Thanks to growing demand for online services from video-conferences to e-commerce and gaming, prices of server DRAM and enterprise SSD or solid-state drives are projected to keep growing in the current quarter. TrendForce raised its price-growth forecasts on server DRAM to 20%, while it expects enterprise SSD prices to rise by as much as 15%.“The growing demand for server DRAM led to low inventory levels for both clients and suppliers,” TrendForce said in an April 1 note. “Also, following a new round of tenders from Chinese telecom operators in February, the supply of server DRAM has become much tighter, in turn maintaining the upward pull on server DRAM prices.”Samsung’s hardest-hit business was mobile because of disappointing demand for S20 devices released in early March. In the first quarter, the company shut its key Gumi plant several times after discovering infection among employees, prompting the shift of some of output to Vietnam. Lockdowns of major cities and store closures across North America have depressed overall business. Hana Financial Investment expects Samsung to report 62.2 million unit shipments of smartphones for the first quarter of 2020, compared with 71.5 million units a year earlier.“Although semiconductor earnings look set to increase on the back of memory chip price hikes, the divisions selling finished products” will likely see their earnings decline, said Greg Roh, senior vice president at HMC Securities.Samsung’s Beauty and Beast: Fully ChargedFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Earnings released early Tuesday by Samsung Electronics Co. show that the technology giant dodged any major impact from the Covid-19 pandemic. Expect that to change.Revenue growth was the strongest in six quarters, though 5% is hardly stellar. And while it was in line with estimates, analysts had been trimming expectations over the past few months. That also applies to the better-than-forecast operating profit, with analysts having lowered the bar in recent weeks.Investors should also note that earnings are reported in Korean won. Samsung’s numbers may have been helped by the fact that the won weakened 6.1% against the U.S. dollar in the quarter, the most in more than four years (the currency swung wildly during the period, so the company’s average exchange rate may have been different).With the coronavirus having shut down swathes of the global economy, any growth is to be lauded. Peers including Apple Inc. aren’t likely to have performed as well. But don’t be fooled into thinking that Samsung is in the clear. Much of the strength during the period probably came from its chip business, driven by the needs of internet companies like web-conferencing provider Zoom Video Communications Inc. These have had to boost server capacity to cope with higher demand from employees forced to work from home amid the pandemic.More than 40% of Samsung’s revenue comes from handsets. This sector was already looking lackluster before the coronavirus outbreak. Now, with the U.S. having reported an astonishing 10 million new jobless claims within two weeks, much of Europe on lockdown, and most of Asia in varying degrees of economic strife, it’s unlikely that consumers are eager to pony up for a flashy new smartphone.Apple’s largest supplier has already felt the pinch. On Monday, its Taiwanese assembler Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. announced first-quarter revenue dropped 12%. While Apple accounts for half of Hon Hai’s sales, the other half comes from a broad collection of companies including Dell Technologies Inc., HP Inc. and Xiaomi Corp. It’s unlikely any of them will come through this economic downturn unscathed.Samsung has the strength, and most importantly the cash, to ride out what will certainly be a tough few quarters for the global economy. That size doesn’t give it immunity.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Tim Culpan is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering technology. He previously covered technology for Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Microsoft Corp. hired Apple Inc.’s former executive in charge of wireless technologies to work on mixed reality hardware and artificial intelligence technology.The Redmond, Washington-based technology giant appointed Ruben Caballero to a role as a corporate vice president, according to his LinkedIn profile. Caballero is working on hardware such as the HoloLens mixed-reality headset, according to his profile. The move underscores Microsoft’s investment in its growing hardware portfolio. Microsoft confirmed the hire.At Cupertino, California-based Apple, Caballero was a vice president of engineering in charge of developing wireless technology, such as antennas inside of devices like iPhones, iPads and Macs. He also oversaw Apple’s global wireless product testing efforts.Caballero worked at Apple from 2005 until early 2019 when his division’s work on modems -- chips that power cellular connectivity -- was subsumed by Apple’s custom chip division run by Johny Srouji. After leaving Apple, Caballero became an adviser at several Silicon Valley-area startups, including wireless company Keyssa and Humane, a startup run by former Apple employees.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- When Donald Trump toured an Austin, Texas, factory in November alongside Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook, the president promoted the event as a celebration of U.S. manufacturing and the return of good-paying jobs to the country.The Apple CEO had successfully made his case to the administration that some components for his company’s products should be excluded from Trump’s China tariffs in exchange for keeping production in the U.S.“Today, I opened a major Apple Manufacturing plant in Texas that will bring high-paying jobs back to America,” Trump tweeted on Nov. 20.But the facility Trump visited is owned and operated by contract manufacturer Flex Ltd. and has been open for 30 years. For decades, it has been producing various devices for many companies including Cisco Systems Inc. Apple has been at the Flex plant since 2013.Computer Parts“He doesn’t have to worry about tariffs,” Trump said of Cook during the Nov. 20 factory tour. “Because when you build in the United States, you don’t have to worry about tariffs.”Two months earlier, the iPhone maker was exempted from tariffs levied on components it imports from China that are used in the Mac Pro desktop put together at the Flex plant. The removal of a 25% surcharge on items like power supplies and printed circuit boards that house the main components of the computer lowered Apple’s costs and, according to Cook, was the reason why the Cupertino, California-based company continued its manufacturing at the Austin factory.But other companies, like San Jose, California-based Cisco, didn’t receive the same treatment. Now jobs related to the manufacture of its products are at risk.In July 2019, Cisco asked the government to exempt the company’s power supplies for U.S.-made servers and switches from the same 25% tariff. Cisco said neither this China-made product nor a comparable one is available in the U.S. or from sources in third countries.Tariff ExemptionsCisco, like many other U.S. companies, was making the same plea to the Trump administration as Apple had: The exemptions were necessary to save good-paying American jobs.After months of being stuck in the process, Cisco was told March 5 that its application for the tariff exemption was denied.“After careful consideration, your request was denied because the request concerns a product strategically important or related to ‘Made in China 2025’ or other Chinese industrial programs,” Joseph Barloon, general counsel for the Office of U.S. Trade Representative, wrote in the denial notice.The applications for an exemption from Apple and Cisco were strikingly similar, particularly when it came to the question of whether their products helped China expand its industrial might.Power Supply“The subject power supplies are not strategically important or related to ‘Made in China 2025’ or any other Chinese industrial policy,” Cisco wrote. “The manufacture of these products in China is unrelated to China’s efforts to develop indigenous, advanced Information and Communications Technology products.”Apple used nearly identical language, saying: “This product is a component of a consumer electronic device. It is not strategically important or related to ‘Made in China 2025’ or other Chinese industrial programs.”Indeed, the power-supply boxes imported from China don’t require cutting-edge technological know-how. They are mostly made up of large spools of copper wire, capacitors and other basic wiring. They haven’t been made in the U.S. for years and don’t require highly paid skilled labor.Apple’s application to get a tariff exclusion was approved in September 2019.Tariff ReliefA USTR spokesman didn’t respond to a request for comment when asked why Apple’s power supply unit doesn’t constitute a product that’s strategically important to China’s industrial programs if an almost identical one from Cisco does.Cisco representatives specifically told USTR and others in the administration while the applications were pending that jobs were at risk, according to sources familiar with the process who asked not to be identified discussing private talks.In a statement after the decision, Cisco said the exemptions it sought “would support the competitiveness of this domestic manufacturing.”The company said it would continue to work with the trade representative’s office for tariff relief on other items, including “for communications equipment that we believe are vital to support the medical response to the coronavirus.”USTR doesn’t make public the reasons why it approves a company’s exemption requests. The business community writ large has complained about the lack of visibility into why certain companies get what appears to be preferential treatment over others.San Jose, California-based Flex, which works for both companies, said in a statement that “securing waivers for tax exemptions is an individualized process based on each customer situation” and declined to identify other customers that use the Austin plant. “Flex’s global footprint provides our customers with options for manufacturing locations, however, we also work closely to help our customers secure tariff exemptions based on their needs.”A group of Texas lawmakers in a letter to trade chief Robert Lighthizer last year underscored that jobs are on the line in Cisco’s case. “Cisco’s operations in Texas directly support more than 1,150 jobs in our state and indirectly support thousands of related jobs in logistics, warehousing, distribution and transportation,” the lawmakers said in their Sept. 13 letter.The decision by the trade office means it’s now a lot cheaper for Cisco to put together its servers, switches and routers in Flex plants in Mexico and export the finished device tariff-free to the U.S. The company declined to say what actions it would take regarding jobs or manufacturing in light of the denial of tariff exemption.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- How can we determine the state of the housing market when we lack data? That is the challenge facing those in the real-estate industry today, says this week's guest on Masters in Business, Jonathan Miller, co-founder of Miller Samuel and a master appraiser and consultant to the industry. The contract data we do have reflects transactions entered into a month or so ago, before most of the shelter-in-place orders were adopted.Miller’s expertise on real-estate appraisals and transactions comes from the data he assembles and analyzes. He has created a variety of real-estate data analytics for regional and national markets. He is sought after as the go-to appraiser for the most expensive dwellings in Manhattan. Miller, who also writes at the Matrix Blog, explains how real estate is responding to the lockdown: The industry move to online listing services, such as Street Easy and Zillow, is all but complete. But some online sites are removing crucial data from their listings, including “days since listed” that show how long a property has been on the market. We also discuss the challenges appraisers are having doing interiors inspections, now in New York City but eventually the rest of the country. Appraisals that are “desktop” by computers, or “curbside” drive-bys are becoming more common, he said.Part of the problem the residential market is facing is that the spring selling season most likely is lost; how soon the market returns to normal won't be known until the pandemic passes. Although virtual tours and live videos are an option for some buyers, the human element requires being physically present to see, walk through and even smell a home, which is usually a person’s largest purchase.His favorite books are here; a transcript of our conversation is available here. Our 2014 conversation with Miller can be found here; our 2016 MiB is here.You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras, on Apple iTunes, Spotify, Overcast, Google, Bloomberg and Stitcher. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here.Next week, we speak with James Montier, a member of GMO UK Lt.’s asset allocation team. Before joining GMO in 2009, he was co-head of global strategy at Societe Generale. He is the author of several books including “Behavioural Investing: A Practitioner’s Guide to Applying Behavioural Finance”; “Behavioural Finance: Insights into Irrational Minds and Markets” and “The Little Book of Behavioural Investing.”This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Barry Ritholtz is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is chairman and chief investment officer of Ritholtz Wealth Management, and was previously chief market strategist at Maxim Group. He is the author of “Bailout Nation.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.