In the age of the Coronavirus, amid supply chain disruptions and workers being sent home, there’s still the need for human contact, for information and check-ins, and even the exchange of jokes and memes.
Might it be the case that the two sizzles that stand out against all the panic would be social media and gaming?
After all, many of us live parallel lives – not only in the tangible, corporeal world, but also in the world of bits and bytes, which allows masses of people to come together without actually touching or breathing the same air. It’s a fact that gives some comfort, especially in China.
As reported this week in The Guardian, less than a third of 300 million migrant workers have fully returned to work, and as many as 270 million children are being kept home from school. That same school “ban” has just been announced in Japan. Many cities are still on lockdown.
Reports the Guardian: “Online social activity and subcultures have bloomed.” People are trading jokes and updates – and conspiracy theories, too – but it all boils down to life lived online.
As a result, at least a couple of observers are finding safe haven in companies that see increased interaction with their end users when they stay indoors. Among the marquee names: Netflix and Activision. As reported in Investor’s Business Daily, for example, Analyst Colin Sebastian said disruptions from the Coronavirus might lead to an “incremental increase” in gaming.
“Video games could benefit from any prolonged ‘cocooning,'” he said in a report to clients, which would buoy Activision and Take-Two, among others. “Interactive entertainment can be counter-cyclical, as a relatively inexpensive form of entertainment vs. activities such as travel, dining and movies,” Sebastian said in the note.
We take comfort where we can, through movies and games and Instagram – idealized versions of life that distract from the turbulence close at hand.
Subscriptions: Subscriptions are gathering steam across a variety of everyday use cases. Panera Bread is offering its “bottomless” cup of coffee, following Burger King’s similar push late last year. Panera has estimated that “free” coffee is a draw for consumers, who increase their visits from four to 10 per month.
Cashierless technology: This starts to see a mainstream rollout, as 7-Eleven announces that it is piloting a cashierless store, right ahead of Amazon’s grand opening of its first cashierless grocery store in Seattle, Amazon Go Grocery.
Financial “platform” mergers: LendingClub is buying Radius Bank, Morgan Stanley is buying E-Trade. Now Intuit has confirmed it is buying Credit Karma for $7.1 billion. The common theme is delivering a range of services amid “one-stop shops” for consumers’ financial needs – from wealth management to savings accounts to credit scores.
U.S. firms in China: Amid the Coronavirus pandemic, American firms in China indicate that annual revenues could be off by roughly 50 percent due to shortages, as estimated by the American Chamber of Commerce.
Shake Shack shaken: The latest earnings report disappoint some investors, who sent the shares down double digits, as the transition to a single delivery partner (Grubhub) has cannibalized some sales. In the fourth quarter, same-store sales are down by 3.6 percent.
Global stocks: Global stocks see a hit of about $3 trillion headed into the end of the week, as the Coronavirus’ spread is faster outside of China than inside that country.