Procter & Gamble says it is monitoring China coronavirus and its impact on travel, consumer confidence


A Chinese passenger that just arrived on the last bullet train from Wuhan to Beijing is checked for a fever by a health worker at a Beijing railway station on January 23, 2020 in Beijing, China.

Kevin Frayer | Getty Images

Procter & Gamble said Thursday that it is monitoring the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus as the World Health Organization weighs whether to call the virus a global health emergency.

The global consumer giant, which owns brands such as Vicks and Pampers, counts China as one of its two largest markets, along with the United States. Halfway through fiscal 2020, P&G said that it has seen growth of 13% in the Asian country.

The virus was first diagnosed less than a month ago and has already killed at least 17 people in China. Roughly 650 cases of the virus have been reported in China, and several other countries have confirmed cases. U.S. health authorities have quarantined one Washington state man with the virus. Symptoms range from a mild cough to fever to pneumonia.

Seven Chinese cities near Wuhan are under lockdown in an effort to stop the spread of the virus. Lunar New Year’s events in Beijing, China, have reportedly been canceled.

“I have no idea what the investments are going to be relative to the new virus,” Chief Financial and Operating Officer Jon Moeller told analysts.

Moeller said the company will monitor the virus as it relates to the health of its employees and the broader community. He also said that the virus could have broad impacts beyond its business in China.

“It can also affect consumer confidence and large parts of the market. It can affect travel, which does affect our business, and so it’s one of the many pieces of volatility that’s just important as we think about the prospects for the future,” Moeller said.

P&G products like its pricey SK-II skincare line are often sold in airports and are popular with international tourists.

The company reported its fiscal second-quarter earnings on Thursday. P&G beat Wall Street’s earnings estimates but fell short on revenue. It also raised its full-year outlook. Shares were trading down less than 1% in morning trading.

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