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Apple Shuts Stores Outside China to Reduce Coronavirus Risk

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Apple (AAPL - Free Report) has closed all stores outside of Greater China to slow down the spread of coronavirus. In a letter posted on the company’s website, Apple CEO Tim Cook stated that “the most effective way to minimize risk of the virus’s transmission is to reduce density and maximize social distance. As rates of new infections continue to grow in other places, we’re taking additional steps to protect our team members and customers.”

Per Cook’s letter, Apple retail stores outside of Greater China will remain closed until Mar 27. Apple currently operates approximately 500 stores worldwide. Of the total, 52 stores are located in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Apple’s latest move highlights how coronavirus has spread from China to Europe and the United States. Three of Europe’s main countries, Italy, Spain and France, have already imposed country-wide lockdowns in a bid to contain COVID-19. The three countries together have recorded over 1,700 deaths so far. In the United States, the number of coronavirus infected cases has surpassed 3,000 while at least 60 people have lost their lives.


Coronavirus Hurts Apple Sales

Rapidly-spreading COVID-19 has severely hurt Apple iPhone sales. Citing data compiled by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, Reuters reported that iPhone sales in China plunged 61% year over year in February 2020.

The novel coronavirus has impacted Apple’s supply chain as well. The company’s iPhone assembling facilities were initially shut down outside Hubei (the epicenter of the coronavirus). The company has been slow to ramp up production back to normal levels, which is impacting global iPhone supply, per a BBC report.

Citing demand and supply disruptions, Apple in mid-February had stated that it might not be able to meet its quarterly revenue expectations issued on Jan 28, 2020. Earlier revenue projections for the tech giant’s fiscal second-quarter 2020 were between $63 and $67 billion.


Apple Goes Online for WWDC 2020

In a major move to reduce the risk of spread of coronavirus, Apple last Friday announced that it will host its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in an entirely new online format. Through this annual event, Apple showcases its new software and technologies to attendees and allows software developers to engage with the company’s engineers. Per the company’s press release, the 2020 event will take place at some point in June.

The need for quarantine and travel barriers is creating disruptions on the international business front. Coronavirus-related health concerns have already resulted in suspension of several conferences and public events, including Alphabet (GOOGL - Free Report) owned Google’s Cloud Next summit, Microsoft’s (MSFT - Free Report) MVP summit, and Adobe’s (ADBE - Free Report) Adobe Summit 2020.

Apple currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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