February 27, 2020 / 3:16 PM / a month ago

Microsoft shares slip after warning of coronavirus hit to supply chain

(Reuters) - Shares of Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) fell 4% on Thursday after the company warned of weakness in its PC business after a hit to its supply chain from the coronavirus outbreak, echoing similar statements from Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and HP (HPQ.N).

FILE PHOTO: Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of Microsoft logo in this picture illustration taken March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

The selloff in shares wiped off nearly $50 billion from Microsoft’s market value on a day broader markets tumbled about 2% on rising fears of a global pandemic.

The virus has infected about 80,000 people, killed nearly 2,800 and spread to 44 countries, and is believed to have originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.

Microsoft said on Wednesday its supply chain was taking longer to return to normal operations than expected, and its Windows and Surface computers had taken a bigger hit than feared.

The impact of the fast-spreading virus has taken a toll on companies across sectors, particularly technology companies as their supply chains in China come under strain.

Apple was the first big technology firm to say the epidemic was affecting its production and demand in China. PayPal Holdings Inc (PYPL.O) and Mastercard Inc (MA.N) have also warned of a possible hit.

Several Wall Street analysts said they expect other technology companies with strong China presence to follow suit.

“Given there seems to be weakness in the PC supply chain, it would seem highly likely to me that we hear something from Intel Corp (INTC.O),” Atlantic Equities analyst James Cordwell said in a mail.

Andrew MacMillen, an analyst with Nucleus Research, said PC makers Dell Technologies Inc (DELL.N) and Lenovo Group (0992.HK) could be seeing some difficulties.

Dell, the world’s third-biggest PC maker after Lenovo Group (0992.HK) and HP, will report quarterly earnings after markets close on Thursday. It has a sizeable exposure to China.

Microsoft said it would miss its own third-quarter revenue forecast for the PC unit, which houses the Windows business.

J.P.Morgan analysts said Microsoft’s outlook is a supply chain issue, not a demand issue, but it was possible that broad supply chain issues plus investors becoming increasingly averse to risk could metastasize into demand issues over time.

Research firm IDC on Thursday forecast 2020 PC shipments to fall 9% due to the outbreak. (bit.ly/2T4tgZ5)

Apple warned earlier in February it was unlikely to meet its March quarter sales outlook due to the coronavirus impact.

“It feels to me that China is getting the coronavirus under control,” Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said in an interview with Fox Business Network, adding that iPhone components come from the United States as well as China.

Cook told the network that iPhone factories in China have re-opened and are in “phase three of the ramp mode” of returning to normal operations.

Additional reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Shounak Dasgupta

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