Business

These stocks are getting hit by coronavirus fears

Posted January 28, 2020 7:22 a.m. EST

— A version of this story first appeared in CNN Business' Before the Bell newsletter. Not a subscriber? You can sign up right here.

European markets are showing signs of recovery on Tuesday as investors shake off some concerns about the spreading coronavirus outbreak. US stocks are poised to follow suit.

The latest: The death toll from the deadly virus, which originated in Wuhan, China, has risen above 100. More than 4,500 cases have now been confirmed in mainland China as the virus continues to spread.

But investors are optimistic that the disease can be contained, helping the global economy to stay on track. Britain's FTSE 100 has gained 0.2%, while Germany's DAX is off just 0.1%. Dow futures are up 0.3%.

There was still a significant reaction in Asia. South Korea's Kospi index fell 3% when it reopened after the Lunar New Year holiday. Japan's Nikkei shed nearly 0.6%. Markets in Hong Kong and mainland China remain closed.

Individual sectors and companies with heavy exposure to China also remain vulnerable.

UBS analyst Zuzanna Pusz said in a note to clients Tuesday that the bank is "more cautious in the near term" about luxury goods sellers such as Swatch, Richemont and Prada, noting that these companies benefit from global tourism and healthy spending in China.

Pusz cautioned against comparisons to the SARS outbreak in 2003. Back then, Chinese consumers accounted for less than 10% of luxury goods sales. Now, they account for one third.

Also exposed: Apple suppliers face concerns that the outbreak could affect the tech company's plans to make up to 80 million iPhones in the first half of the year, according to a Nikkei report.

On the other hand: Companies that produce cleaning products rallied Monday. Clorox, Procter & Gamble and Kimberly-Clark all rose.

All eyes on Apple ahead of its 5G phone launch

Apple reports earnings for the last three months of 2019 after US markets close. In focus: the company's iPhone sales, which have been under pressure.

The $1.35 trillion tech giant is expected to launch 5G smartphones in the second half of this year. Before then, investors will want to know how Apple's flagship device is selling.

The numbers: iPhone sales tumbled 9% last quarter, but the slump showed signs of easing. In each of the previous three quarters, iPhone sales had fallen by about 15%.

CEO Tim Cook has done his best to remain upbeat, predicting that the iPhone 11 would become the company's bestselling phone. In the meantime, Apple is investing heavily in services. Apple TV+ launched last quarter, so expect questions on how revenue (and costs) are stacking up for the streaming service.

On the radar: Apple's sales in China, a crucial market, had been stabilizing — but they're now under threat from coronavirus. Shares of the company fell nearly 3% on Monday as fears grew about the impact of the deadly virus on consumer spending.

However, Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives sees the sales risk as "very containable." He said in a note to clients this week that some iPhone sales in the region could shift from the first quarter to the second quarter of 2020, but sees this affecting "less than 3% of Chinese annual iPhone sales at most."

Startup Casper gets realistic ahead of its public debut

Mattress startup Casper has big ambitions to become a publicly-traded wellness company. The problem is it can't stop losing money, my CNN Business colleague Jordan Valinsky reports.

That's forced the company to be more realistic ahead of its public market debut. The company, once valued at more than $1 billion, said this week that it expects to offer up to 9.6 million shares at a price between $17 and $19 per share. At the top end of that range, the company would be valued at $768 million.

The announcement is a sign of the times: after investors got burned by Slack, Uber and Peloton IPOs in 2019, there's more skepticism around loss-making companies that want to tap public markets.

That doesn't mean these companies will stay private. After all, Casper is moving ahead — just at a more modest price than it may have hoped.

Up next

3M, Harley-Davidson, Lockheed Martin, Nucor, Pfizer, SAP and Xerox report results before US markets open. Apple, eBay and Starbucks follow after the close.

Also today: US consumer confidence data for January arrives at 10 a.m. ET.

Coming tomorrow: The Federal Reserve makes its latest interest rate decision as fears that the coronavirus could knock the global economy grow.

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