Apple is the canary in the covid mine

The abandonment of re-opening plans at the Spaceship yesterday launched a thousand headlines.*

From Mark Gurman’s “Apple Scraps Office-Return Deadline Without Setting New Date” posted Wednesday on Bloomberg:

Apple facing a resurgence in Covid-19 cases and a fast-spreading new variant, is delaying its corporate return-to-office deadline from Feb. 1 to a “date yet to be determined.”

Employees were informed of the move via a memo sent by Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook on Wednesday. An Apple spokesman confirmed the decision to Bloomberg News.

The delay comes just weeks after the company asked employees to begin returning by February, a timeline that had already been pushed back several times. The lack of a firm date shows the struggle that companies face in trying to get their operations back to normal.

My take: Thanks in large part to the Watch, Apple has managed to wrap its brand around science, medicine and a healthy lifestyle.

*A Google search turned up tens of thousands of headlines, but I didn’t have time to read them all.

9 Comments

  1. Tommo_UK said:
    As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, the US ignores covid news and its impact until it actually hits US shores, so you can take your cues from sentiment-hitting headlines impacting Europe and other places “unknown” to so many Americans as leading indicators of what might impact US stocks and policy reaction about 2-3 weeks later.

    I specifically mentioned Omicron at the time as an under-appreciated near term risk especially with profits to book for the year looming but analysts were too busy trying on imaginary Apple AR glasses and pretending they were driving Apple cars to notice another massive wave of the global pandemic about to hit and a worldwide shortage of vaccines for booster jabs. Not great headlines to fight.

    I’m not making any call except to say I am erring on extreme caution and view the risk of a sharp sell off to give rise to a buying opportunity as high, and am positioned accordingly. I wouldn’t sell shares but I won’t play with any leveraged derivatives or options right now. Trading on hope because Apple “deserves” to go higher in the face of the world losing its mind over another pandemic and global lockdown over or after Christmas is not a trade-able thesis I want to worry about over Christmas and new year.

    Having said that, my feeling is that after any initial sell off on fear or tax selling/rebalancing, the rebound could be fierce if Omicron proves highly infectious but low in terms severe health complications compared to Delta.

    5
    December 16, 2021
  2. The Apple teams in Cupertino & elsewhere refreshed many products, added new Services and released a new iPhone, in 2020, under extreme WFH or, increasingly, Work from Anywhere. They ended up a few days late on the 2020 iPhone release as I recall. I am confident Apple employees, using Apple processors, can WFA.
    A survey would definitely reveal nobody really enjoys commuting to work.

    5
    December 16, 2021
    • Covid-19 variants may impact retail performance & Apple TV+ show production, along with temporary Hon Hai & logistics shutdowns due to positive tests. Cook & Co. have experience navigating those skies, roads, and water too.

      5
      December 16, 2021
  3. Tommo_UK said:
    Thomas,

    That maybe me the case. It has no bearing on the ignorance of US markets and many investors about the impact global events have. Apple is a global company and to pretend it’s business as usual when the company itself has declared it’s reverting to emergency measures is ostrich-like.

    Apple is coping thanks to magnificent forward planning and a dominance over supply chains but anyone in the know is aware that product updates have been scaled back both in time and in features, with software and hardware engineering taking a particularly hard hit (as evidenced by the bug strewn and data destroying releases of Big Sur and Monterey), along with the lacklustre new features in the iPhone 13 – a great phone I upgraded to but missing key features pulled very late in its development due to time constraints and component concerns.

    Anyone who knows employees within Apple will know how reliant on the goodwill and Herculean efforts of its people the company is, and how over-stressed to the point of burnout many are.

    Working from home is not a “luxury” everyone enjoys and it certainly isn’t a sustainable permanent model for a company dependent on such a collegiate atmosphere as Apple.

    The first round of the pandemic funded massive consumer spending from unprecedented global government handouts direct to peoples pockets. We won’t see that this time.

    This time may be different and using 2020 as your basis for projecting 2022 may prove dangerous. The cumulative lack of in-person research and development can only go so far before necessitating a slow down in roll-out, not to mention the pointlessness of launching AR glasses in a world where there’s nowhere to really walk about and use them.

    There’s a strong case for Apple to shift its product mix and launches around unfolding global events to maximise their impact and not waste potentially ground breaking new product lines on a world not quite ready. Resting on the iPhone and services won’t be enough to see through 2022 given the AR and CAR hype.

    I’m not trying to insult you or anyone championing the company but sometimes you have to walk on the dark side to get a view of the horizon and see just how far away dawn is from breaking. The sun isn’t rising at the moment from where I’m watching.

    3
    December 16, 2021

Leave a Reply