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The Black Cloud Is Over Europe and Its Airlines

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Airlines News

It’s official, the EU is on lockdown as of noon, Paris (Central European Standard Time) as the World Health Organisation has declared a global pandemic of COVID-19 and Europe as its new epicenter. This literally means- no one enters nor gets to leave the Union for at least 20 days in an effort to contain the spread as flattening the curve is the world’s best bet against the coronavirus which contaminated 179,400 people in at least 140 countries, taking away more than 7,000 lives. For now, among the most severely hit countries are Italy and Spain. As France’s President, Emmanuel Macron declared on Monday evening, we are at war with an invisible enemy. And besides Europe’s citizens mentally suffering in isolation that will last for several weeks, the airline industry is living its worst nightmare as flights are canceled and demand is dropping severely in several months ahead. And it’s extending far beyond Europe as Trump’s decision to set curbs on European flights capped a tumultuous week and is expected to upend a trans-Atlantic market that’s usually the world’s most lucrative.

Airlines bleeding

The Italian government is considering pumping $333 million into an already struggling Alitalia SpA which was already in an urgent need for restructuring. The troubled airline is burning cash at a rate of around $334 million a year so the coronavirus might just be the last drop. Additionally, the government might even take over the airline, according to Bloomberg. The head of Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA (OTC:NWARF) admitted the discount carrier is on the brink of a fall out as he pleaded for help.

Lufthansa AG Deutsche Lufthansa AG (OTC:DLAKY)

Already last week before the lockdowns took place, in order to avoid layoffs due to the slashing demand and capacity by as much as 50%, the airline announced to Bloomberg it will resort to the option of short time work, known as “Kurzarbeit,” when the government offsets wages lost when companies are forced to temporarily halt activities. The government has loosened rules for short-term work compensation to make it easier for those companies which are heavily affected by the virus to apply. Lufthansa is expected to seek a loan from Germany’s state-run bank to weather the fallout from the virus, after it already cut forecasts and suspended its dividend.

Air France-KLM 

Air France-KLM’s (OTC:AFLYY) business already took quite a hit on Sunday when the French government said it would gradually reduce domestic air, rail and bus operations to limit non-essential travel in the nation that has already shut down everything but the ‘necessary’ stores such as food shops and pharmacies. But now it’s even worse as all is stopped as of Tuesday, there’s no way in or a way out. But Air France can at least count on the help of two governments, as  France owns 14% and the Netherlands has a stake of a bit less than 13%. On Friday, the company already announced it is  building up cash reserves and preparing an emergency plan to cut costs. It has drawn down 1.1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) from a revolving credit facility, bringing available liquidity to 5.5 billion euros, a move it said is aimed at preserving its financial flexibility. In addition to supporting its liquidity, the government is also helping with a shorter working hour arrangement that allows firms to pay employees less in times of such Black Swan events.

UK

Until today before the PM addressed the public, the UK did not have such drastic measures such as Europe. But it was still severely hit as Bloomberg reported that British Airways owned by IAG SA (OTC:ICAGY) chief Alex Cruz called it a crisis of global proportions like no other the industry has known and even worse than the SARS outbreak in the early 2000s, 9/11 in 2001 and the financial meltdown of 2008-2009. The Financial Times reported that BA has held talks with multiple banks regarding urgent financing. The U.K. government is also making efforts to support workers, businesses and passengers,

A grim outlook

The stock is going down at an abnormal speed as IAG SA and Air France-KLM already reached a lowest point in more than the last three years, while Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA reached its 15-year bottom. And things are only to get worse as the pandemic continues. Jobs will be lost as the airlines idle planes, cut back on flights and move to protect their balance sheet. The International Air Transport Association estimated that they may lose as much as $113 billion in ticket sales this year. The virus first swept through Asia, decimating air traffic and leading to a Chinese government decision to take charge of the parent of Hainan Airlines and a similar scenario seems to be in the cards for European airlines but the whole world will be affected by this pandemic. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, measures taken by states could cost the tourism industry 50 million jobs. There’s no doubt that the survival of many airline companies is on the line and of the travel industry as a whole considering that the COVID-19 pandemic is at its initial stage and we are to fight this battle for quite a few months ahead along with fighting the fears that yet another recession is upon us. The key challenge for the coming days and weeks to come is to bring the epidemic under control as soon as possible as otherwise we risk it inflicting a lasting damage on the economy.

This article is not a press release and is contributed by a verified independent journalist for IAMNewswire. It should not be construed as investment advice at any time please read the full disclosure . IAM Newswire does not hold any position in the mentioned companies. Press Releases – If you are looking for full Press release distribution contact: press@iamnewswire.com Contributors – IAM Newswire accepts pitches. If you’re interested in becoming an IAM journalist contact: contributors@iamnewswire.com

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BenzingaEditorial

Automotive Outlook – A Road to Hell?

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Ford News

The automotive industry was hit hard by COVID-19. Automakers were forced to shut down approximately  95% of plants across Europe and the US. In most cases, those measures were supposed to last only two weeks. Now it looks like factories will remain silent for much longer. Reopening dates are being postponed, while some auto producers like General Motors (NYSE: GM) decided not to give any reopening targets at all. Uncertainty is present everywhere these days.

Beating the invisible enemy

The COVID-19 is the new virus, an invisible enemy, that you cannot catch or hit back. The number of infected people is constantly increasing. The average growth rate is moving between 10% and 15% per day. According to the latest data, it can be said that the virus is not showing any signs of slowing down. It looks like COVID-19 has just started its horror show. So far, until the end of March that is, approximately 4.000 people died, but public health officials recently said that between 100.000 and 240.000 deaths can be expected until the end of this year. President Trump decided not to lift the restrictions as planned on Easter but to extend them. He warned that the US is facing “very, very painful two weeks” ahead.

Lockdowns are here to stay

Thus, it can be expected that lockdowns will continue. It is the only available option in the fight against the virus. China showed to the rest of the world that this strategy works. Yes, it is hurting everyone mentally, physically and financially, particularly the automotive industry. But it is an inevitable cost that we all must pay. For automakers, it means that there will be no production nor car sales any time soon and for much longer than they previously anticipated.

Crisis is only getting momentum

Because the crisis is getting momentum, analysts are now giving new forecasts and warning us not only about an upcoming recession but something even worse – economic depression in the automotive industry. Investors are worried, as they are starting to realize that unemployment rates could skyrocket and that factories may remain closed for the next two months or even longer. Even after the crisis is over, it is hard to avoid the upcoming economic downturn. People will probably try to postpone some bigger purchases until they are convinced that the situation is back to normal.

The question on everyone’s minds is: “Where is all this going?”. And we are all hoping that the answer is not: “ Down the road to nowhere.”

What do analysts expect?

Average expectations are that Detroit’s Big 3 automakers will all show sales declines in the first quarter of 2020. It is expected that General Motors , Ford (NYSE: F) and Fiat Chrysler (NYSE: FCAU) auto sales will drop somewhere near 6%, 16%, and 10% respectively compared to last year’s results.

And what about the whole year forecast?

Well those numbers are even worse. JP Morgan Chase & Co. analysts predict that approximately 10.3 million automobiles could be sold in 2020 and that is 40% down compared to last year. If this ends up being the case, sales would be even lower than in 2009, when only 10.4 million vehicles were sold. Just remember, it was the year when General Motors and Chrysler filed for bankruptcy. But, if the crisis continues, those forecasts can be even worse. In that case, sales may go even down – and that means literally down, 6 to 7 million vehicles to be exact. Best of all is that many analysts are relying on the last quarter when they expect a bounce-back. But what if the virus strikes again, like the second wave China is so scared of? This fear is making the country have to close up again just shortly after lifting its restrictions. This all seems like a road or even highway to hell, doesn’t it?

This article is not a press release and is contributed by Ivana Popovic who is a verified independent journalist for IAMNewswire. It should not be construed as investment advice at any time please read the full disclosure . Ivana Popovic does not hold any position in the mentioned companies. Press Releases – If you are looking for full Press release distribution contact: press@iamnewswire.com Contributors – IAM Newswire accepts pitches. If you’re interested in becoming an IAM journalist contact: contributors@iamnewswire.com Questions about this release can be send to ivana@iamnewswire.com

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BenzingaEditorial

Don’t Worry European Automotive Industry – The Government and Banks Have Got Your Back!

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Automotive industry Stocks Coronavirus

European automakers have shut down their factories due to the COVID-19 outbreak. All key industry players, like Volkswagen AG (OTC: VWAGY), Peugeot S.A. (OTC: PUGOY), Renault SA (OTC: RNLSY) and other industry peers decided to lockdown plants in order to protect the health of their workers. The virus has already caused a lot of damage to the European automotive industry. And the situation is only becoming more severe so help is more than needed.

Liquidity concerns

World’s biggest auto producer Volkswagen recently announced it is burning approximately 2.2 billion USD per week. This is approximately 40% of its last year’s average weekly revenues. The longer the crisis lasts, the bigger the losses will be. Volkswagen’s chief financial officer said recently that passenger car sales are expected to drop approximately 40% in March.  Considering the not-so-optimistic outlook by the World Health Organization, what will happen as this health crisis continues? How big will those cash drains be? It is hard to imagine the consequences at this point.

Driving without cash fuel?

The automotive industry is a classic example of a highly capital intensive and cyclical industry. Fixed costs are relatively high compared to other industries. Thus, capacity utilization is one of the key performance indicators. But in these times, when plants stand still, losses are growing every day. Liquidity issues are currently avoided thanks to previously formed cash reserves and available credit lines. But liquidity concerns are only getting amplified in CFO’s minds. Bank managers as well as investors are only getting more worried and afraid too. They are quite reluctant to lend money or invest in loss-making companies. It is not surprising that share prices and credit ratings are falling like a rock. Everyone is wondering how will the automotive industry continue to drive without any “cash fuel”?

It’s time for central and investment banks as well as the government to jump in. And they did just that as European Central Bank (ECB), European Investment Bank (EIB) and European Commission (EC) announced that they are ready to support the automotive industry and protect their employees.

The financial injection is coming – ECB

ECB has launched a 750 billion EUR Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (PEPP). Asset purchases will last until the end of 2020. ECB will inject money into the European financial system and it will increase its liquidity. Corporate bonds are also eligible for purchasing. And it is a chance for all reputable carmakers to secure funding until the situation settles down. According to ECB President, Christine Lagarde, ECB will be even willing to increase this monetary package should this be considered necessary.

EIB also jumped in

European Investment Bank (EIB), the lending arm of the European Union, also decided to help. It will finance companies with approximately 40 billion EUR. The money will be used for working capital and overall liquidity maintenance financing. Fiat Chrysler (NYSE: FCAU) already made some arrangements with EIB last week when a new 3.5 billion EUR credit facility was agreed. Most Fiat Chrysler factories around the globe are currently locked down. This kind of strong support is now more than needed. It does not only fortify the company’s cash position, but it also sends a clear “don’t be afraid” message to the financial market, investors and creditors.

EC even went a step ahead

Finally, the European Commission (EC) also announced that it will relax existing rules that limit EU member states to financially support their companies. Now, national governments can use the arsenal of available financial weapons like direct grants, tax advantages and various advance payments to boost liquidity and the overall economy.  But that is not all. EC also came up with an “Escape clause” activation proposal that will allow member states to forget the budgetary constraints which the EU normally imposes. Overall, the EU is determined not to let COVID-19 win.

This article is not a press release and is contributed by Ivana Popovic who is a verified independent journalist for IAMNewswire. It should not be construed as investment advice at any time please read the full disclosure . Ivana Popovic does not hold any position in the mentioned companies. Press Releases – If you are looking for full Press release distribution contact: press@iamnewswire.com Contributors – IAM Newswire accepts pitches. If you’re interested in becoming an IAM journalist contact: contributors@iamnewswire.com Questions about this release can be send to ivana@iamnewswire.com

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BenzingaEditorial

Solar Is Emerging As the Best Bet

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Solar Technology Companies

The renewable energy sector is one of the rare bright spots with a potential to recover in a global economy which has been put to a virtual standstill by the COVID-19 pandemics. Even in troubled Spain that is on absolute lockdown with its citizens not being able to leave their homes in an effort to stop the outbreak , the solar industry is expecting a rebound. Solar energy is expected to be among the first sectors that will pick up the pace after the crisis.

As for the US, the outbreak has emptied out workplaces across the US, the solar industry is making a case to  be exempt from mandatory shutdowns. As for Australia, its citizens are stocking up on renewable energy storage in response to the pandemic. So no matter where you are, solar technology seems to be the right pick despite the fact there is no guarantee during this unprecedented crisis the world is facing.

Working from home

The imposed measure of social distancing has crushed the already troubled airline industry. And it also has the potential to slow down even the shining solar industry. While certain aspects of this development can take place online as people are asked to work from home, project construction cannot be done this way. For now, the industry is carrying on with what tasks it can by being behind a laptop but delays are inevitable.

Some were hit less than others

First Solar, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:FSLR) has been heavily hit by CVODI-19 like its peers as it fell 37.5 % this year. And that is even worse than the S&P 500 drop of 21.3%. But First Solar can weather this storm thanks to a net cash balance of $1.8 billion. Also the company is planning to keep manufacturing going unless the government imposes more severe restrictions so it is not entirely unimaginable that the company’s results fall close to the projected tree. And although cash cannot cure all the wounds of the crisis, a strong balance sheet is surely an advantage over its competitors to amortise short-term blows at least.

Some were lucky- or smart enough to protect their supply chains

Franchise Holdings International (OTC:FNHI) got the best of solar but also some other worlds through its investment Worksport. By planning to launch the world’s first solar tonneau covers for pickup trucks, it has not only made solar technology affordable but it possibly helped the struggling automotive industry move forward to the next era as its TerraVis technology will transform any pickup truck you have in mind. Besides harvesting solar energy, Worksport is also promising a fast 30-min charge. Its rich portfolio of intellectual property and the fact it only shortly paused its factories during the outbreak amortized the COVID-19 blows and the company’s supply chain even managed to remain intact. Saved by the Sun it is! And there is Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) who is never behind as it’s about to make solar power a common feature on electric cars starting with its Cybertruck. After that launch, the flamboyant Musk even announced that Tesla’s new pickup truck will have a solar accessory on the roof that will add 15 miles of range per day.

Growth of renewables can’t be stopped even by COVID-19

Solar stock will surely be a haven for investors during these hard times. As the US government also considers how to aid airlines, as well as oil and gas, renewables are hoping for a place on that list and the solar industry surely hopes it can successfully lobby for sector-specific relief by being irreplaceable to the economy. It surely is to the future of anyone living on Earth.

This article is not a press release and is contributed by Ivana Popovic who is a verified independent journalist for IAMNewswire. It should not be construed as investment advice at any time please read the full disclosure . Ivana Popovic does not hold any position in the mentioned companies. Press Releases – If you are looking for full Press release distribution contact: press@iamnewswire.com Contributors – IAM Newswire accepts pitches. If you’re interested in becoming an IAM journalist contact: contributors@iamnewswire.com Questions about this release can be send to ivana@iamnewswire.com

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