Investing

As Coronavirus Spreads, Sensitive China, US, Global Economies Face Great Risks

McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) has announced that it was closing its restaurant locations in Wuhan and surrounding cities where transportation has been hated. Its shares lost 1% to close at $211.24 on Friday, a loss of about $1.6 billion in market cap. Starbucks Corp. (NASDAQ: SBUX) also reportedly closed an unspecified number of stores in China. The 1.8% drop to $92.03 a share on Friday was close to a $2 billion loss in its market capitalization.

The U.S. air carriers are even taking a hit. United Airlines Holdings Inc. (NYSE: UAL) saw a 3.5% price drop on Friday to $81.90. American Airlines Group Inc. (NASDAQ: AAL) fell 4% to $27.64, with rival Delta Airlines Inc. (NYSE: DAL) falling the least of the big three with a 2.4% drop to $58.81 on Friday. All three majors have made allowances for schedule changes for flights in and out of China.

Many other companies in major economic sectors have been and will be affected by the most recent coronavirus outbreak.

Yum China Holdings Inc. (NYSE: YUMC) saw its shares fall from almost $50 at the end of the prior week to $44.25 by this past week’s close. Yum China has closed some KFC and Pizza Hut stores in Wuhan. Yum! Brands Inc. (NYSE: YUM), which collects a royalty from its former subsidiary, saw its shares down almost 1% at $104.98 on Friday.

Luckin Coffee Inc. (NASDAQ: LK), the recent hot IPO that is dubbed the “Starbucks of China,” saw its shares drop over 8% to $40.83 on Friday alone. That is down from about $50 just the week before. By losing close to $20% of its value from the prior week, that’s a market cap of $2.1 billion loss from its recent peak.

Melco Resorts & Entertainment Ltd. (NASDAQ: MLCO), with its main resorts and casinos in Macau, was a standout on Friday with a gain of three cents a share to $21.24, but this was trading at $25.00 just a week earlier.

China Life Insurance Co. Ltd. (NYSE: LFC) is worth $115 billion, even after losing 1.6% on Friday and having lost close to 8.4% from the prior week’s closing bell. That’s roughly a loss of $10 billion in market cap for the week.

New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc. (NYSE: EDU) saw a 3.4% drop to $124.61 on Friday, but the top Chinese education company had been above $135 the prior week. TAL Education Group (NASDAQ: TAL) fell 3.6% to $46.68 on Friday, and that is down from $54.00 the prior week. That’s a combined $1.6 billion or so in market cap losses just on Friday, and even greater for the whole week.

Huazhu Group Ltd. (NASDAQ: HTHT), a hotel operator in China, saw a 2.5% drop to $32.31 on Friday, but this was down from above $39 just a week earlier. That’s close to $2 billion in market cap lost in a week.

Trip.com Group Ltd. (NASDAQ: TCOM), the leader in online travel (including Ctrip.com), saw its shares drop by 6.9% to $31.90 on Friday, and this was a $39 stock just the week before. The company has allowed for expanded cancellations in hotels. That’s a loss of about $1.3 billion in market just on Friday, and a weekly loss of closer to $4.5 billion in lost market cap.

China Southern Airlines Co. Ltd. (NYSE: ZNH) saw its ADSs fall 2.5% to $29.59 on Friday, but the loss for the week was more than 13%, and that translates to over $1 billion in losses to the current $9.9 billion level. China Eastern Airlines Corp. Ltd. (NYSE: CEA) ADSs fell 1.4% to $24.09 on Friday, down over 12% for the week for a total weekly loss of more than $1 billion in market cap.

While there are actually some winners here, it’s important to consider just what has been happening and what the outlook is for the global picture between the United States and China alone. China’s look at 2019 gross domestic product showed annual growth of 6.1%, but it was decelerating into the end of 2019 ahead of China signing its phase-one trade pact with the United States. The International Monetary Fund recently down-ticked global growth for 2020, but that was before considering any impact from a pandemic or epidemic scare was even large enough to try to factor into models. And GDP growth in the United States is barely expected to be 2% in the fourth quarter of 2019, with most economists still expecting a relatively slow growth phase in 2020.

Losses in market capitalization are definitely not the same as true economic costs against the broader economy. That said, it counts against the wealth of their shareholders and businesses shutting down or curtailing operations can have a direct impact on wages, consumer spending, transportation and employment trends. That can all add up to the multiple billions of dollars of real economic impact, when you consider the size of the U.S. and Chinese economies.