Microsoft shares slip after warning of coronavirus hit to supply chain

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© Reuters. Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of Microsoft logo in this picture illustration© Reuters. Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of Microsoft logo in this picture illustration

By Ayanti Bera and Supantha Mukherjee

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

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, after originating 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 (O:) and Mastercard Inc (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 (O:),” Atlantic Equities analyst James Cordwell said in a mail.

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

Dell, the world’s third-biggest PC maker after Lenovo Group (HK:) and HP, will report quarterly earnings after market 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 that Microsoft’s guidance 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.

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