Mike Pence tours medical clinic without a face mask By AP Reporters•US vice president Mike Pence chose not to wear a face mask during a tour of the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota on Tuesday, an apparent violation of the world-renowned medical centre’s policy requiring them.Video feeds show Mr Pence did not wear a mask when he met with a Mayo employee who has recovered from Covid-19 and is now donating plasma, even though all other people in the room appeared to be wearing one.
He was also without a mask when he visited a lab where Mayo conducts coronavirus tests.
And Mr Pence was the only participant not to wear a mask during a round table discussion on Mayo’s coronavirus testing and research programs. All other participants did, including Food and Drug Administration chief Stephen Hahn, top Mayo officials, state governor Tim Walz and federal politician Jim Hagedorn.
Mayo tweeted that it had informed the vice president of its mask policy prior to his arrival. The tweet was later removed. Mayo officials did not directly respond to a request for comment on why it was removed, or at whose request.
“Mayo shared the masking policy with the VP’s office,” the health care system said in its response.
Mr Pence explained his decision by stressing he had been frequently tested for the virus.
“As vice president of the United States I’m tested for the coronavirus on a regular basis, and everyone who is around me is tested for the coronavirus,” Mr Pence said, adding that he is following CDC guidelines, which indicate that the mask is good for preventing the spread of the virus by those who have it.
“And since I don’t have the coronavirus, I thought it’d be a good opportunity for me to be here, to be able to speak to these researchers, these incredible healthcare personnel, and look them in the eye and say ‘Thank you’.”
Mr Pence is not the only White House official who has shown a reluctance for face masks.
When President Donald Trump announced new federal guidelines recommending Americans wear face coverings when in public, he immediately said he had no intention of following that advice himself, saying: “I’m choosing not to do it.”
Mr Pence also went without a mask a week earlier when he visited a GE Healthcare facility that makes ventilators.
Some at the event in Madison, Wisconsin, wore masks and others did not.
The White House said then that Mr Pence had tested negative for the coronavirus and suggested that under the guidelines developed by the coronavirus task force there was no need for him to wear a mask.
US Vice-President Mike Pence has visited a top US hospital without wearing a mask, despite the medical centre’s own rules that visitors should wear personal protective equipment.
Mr Pence appeared to be the only person present without a facial covering at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
In a deleted tweet, the clinic said the vice-president had been notified in advance of its policy requiring masks.
Mr Pence leads the White House coronavirus taskforce.
He defended his decision as necessary in order to meet with staff and patients.
The US government’s own coronavirus-prevention advice is that people should wear face coverings „in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain”.
The Mayo Clinic itself requires all patients and visitors to its medical centres to wear a mask or face covering.
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Mr Pence was accompanied by commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration Dr Stephen Hahn, who wore a mask for the trip.
The visit came on the same day that the US coronavirus caseload topped one million and the number of deaths surpassed 57,000.
Asked by a reporter on Tuesday to explain why he did not wear a mask, the vice-president said he and everyone around him are regularly tested for the coronavirus.
„When the CDC issued guidelines about wearing a mask, it was their recognition that people that may have the coronavirus could prevent the possibility of conveying the virus to someone else by wearing a mask,” he said.
„And since I don’t have the coronavirus, I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to be here, to be able to speak to these researchers, these incredible healthcare personnel, and look them in the eye and say thank you.”
Mr Pence chose to forgo a mask earlier this month while greeting Colorado Governor Jared Polis – who did don a facial covering – on their way to the Air Force Graduation ceremony.
According to news website Axios, Mr Pence has never once worn a mask in public since the pandemic began while continuing to travel throughout the country.
An aide to Mr Pence was the first White House member to test positive for the virus in late March.
President Donald Trump has himself previously said he has no plans to wear a mask.
Since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading expert on infectious diseases, has established himself as the authoritative public face of the Trump administration’s coronavirus response.
For some, however, he has taken on a different role. In recent weeks, Fauci has emerged as the latest target in the vast web of COVID-19-related conspiracy theories that have been circulating on social media since reports of the coronavirus first began to emerge out of Wuhan, China, in January. Like other coronavirus villains, from the Chinese government to Bill Gates, Fauci has been charged with an array of nefarious activity, all of it implausible and some of it mutually contradictory. According to some theories, for example, he’s both played a role in creating the coronavirus and exaggerated the risks of a “fake” pandemic. According to widely viewed and shared YouTube videos, Facebook posts and memes, Fauci’s alleged motives include ties to “big pharma,” a financial stake in a future coronavirus vaccine and involvement in a “deep state” plot to destroy the economy and influence the presidential election in November.
Experts warn that recent efforts to undermine scientists and public health officials like Fauci have the potential to further compound the dangers of misinformation, which has spread alongside the coronavirus as a dangerous comorbidity to the pandemic itself.
“Trust … is one of the most important factors to handle such a pandemic,” said Pia Lamberty, a PhD student at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, in Germany, who studies the psychology of conspiracy beliefs. “If people do not believe what [the experts] say, they are less likely to follow their recommendations.”
Lamberty said that the proliferation of conspiracy theories around the coronavirus “is not surprising,” as “conspiracy theories arise especially when people feel that they have no control.” Not only that, but Lamberty said that the kinds of narratives that are currently being spread about the coronavirus (that it is man-made, designed to harm certain groups and benefit those in power) are similar to those that arose in response to previous major disease outbreaks, such as Zika, Ebola and AIDS. In fact, it has been true of epidemics going back at least to the Middle Ages.
- A day after international media outlets like CNN and The Daily Mail ran with headlines saying New Zealand had „eliminated” the coronavirus, the government has had to backtrack, citing technical jargon for the confusion.
- The confusion came after New Zealand’s Director-General of Health Dr. Ashley Bloomfield answered a question about whether it had been eliminated. He said: „we’ve achieved [elimination] through alert level 4.”
- Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern added that New Zealand had „currently” eliminated the virus.
- Bloomfield told reporters on Tuesday: „I can just clarify we haven’t eliminated it and we haven’t eradicated it.” While Ardern added: „Elimination doesn’t mean zero cases… we will have to keep stamping Covid out until there’s a vaccine.”
- As of April 29, New Zealand had 1,472 cases with 19 deaths according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories
New Zealand has had to backtrack claims it had eliminated the coronavirus, blaming technical jargon for international confusion.
On Tuesday, New Zealand eased a month-long, nationwide lockdown. While locals lined up for takeaways or visited relatives, international media outlets like CNN and The Daily Mail ran headlines that said New Zealand had „eliminated” the coronavirus.
But the coronavirus had only been „eliminated” under the country’s most strick lockdown guidelines. The confusion came after Director-General of Health Dr. Ashley Bloomfield — New Zealand’s answer to Dr. Anthony Fauci — said: „we’ve achieved [elimination] through alert level 4.” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern added that the coronavirus was „currently” eliminated.
The following day Bloomfield told reporters who asked if he was concerned about giving the world a false impression, as well as potentially causing locals to ease up on social distancing: „I can just clarify we haven’t eliminated it and we haven’t eradicated it.”
Ardern added that it was a situation arising out of confusion over epidemiologist terminology. „Elimination doesn’t mean zero cases… we will have to keep stamping COVID out until there’s a vaccine,” she said, according to RNZ, a publicly-owned radio station.
Sanka Vidanagama/NurPhoto / Getty
Newshub, a television news outlet, reported Bloomfield then specified what „elimination” meant in this scenario as he cleared „muddy waters.”
He said it was „a small number of cases, a knowledge of where those cases are coming from and an ability to identify cases early, stamp them out, and maintain strict border restrictions so we’re not importing new cases. That’s what underpins the elimination goal.”
However, Professor Nick Wilson, from Otago University’s Department of Public Health, who previously spoke to Insider about the possibility of New Zealand’s elimination strategy failing, said no scientific definition existed for it in New Zealand, and a definition was necessary.
Wilson provided a possible interpretation as: „no active cases at all in the country for at least a period of four weeks of extensive testing and other surveillance systems in place,” but he added that it needed to be revised by a panel of experts from New Zealand and Australia.
At the end of Tuesday’s conference, Bloomfield said: „Well I hope my explanation today has helped to clarify — if there was mud yesterday, the water is clearer today — and I hope you all have a good understanding of that and New Zealanders do.”
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Thuan Pham, who fled Vietnam as a child and became Uber’s CTO in 2013, is leaving the company by Connie Loizos•Thuan Pham, hired as Uber’s chief technology officer by former CEO Travis Kalanick back in 2013, is leaving the company in three weeks, the ride-share giant revealed today in an SEC filing that came out just as The Information reported that massive layoffs at Uber are being proposed to preserve some of the company’s dwindling capital reserves.The outlet suggests the discussed cuts could impact upwards of 20 percent of Uber’s 27,000 employees, roughly 800 of whom could theoretically come from Pham’s engineering team, which currently comprises 3,800 people.Said an Uber spokesman to The Information’s Amir Efrati: „As you would expect, the company is looking at every possible scenario to ensure we get to the other side of this crisis in a stronger position than ever.”
Uber has been hard hit as much of the country and world remains at home, awaiting a vaccine for — or at least more testing around — COVID-19. Last Thursday, Uber said it expects an impairment charge of up to $2.2 billion in the first quarter due to the outbreak and for revenue to nosedive by $17 million to $22 million in the quarter. (The company will report its first quarter results next Thursday.)
Pham has meanwhile become the longest-serving top executive at Uber, outlasting not just Kalanick, who was forced to resign as CEO back in 2018, but also the members of Kalanick’s so-called „A team” of trusted advisors. Included in this circle: Ryan Graves, who was one of Uber’s first employees and a board member of the company until last May; Uber’s former head of product, Daniel Graf, who has since started his own company; Eric Alexander, who was Uber’s president of business in Asia and was fired in 2017 over his handling of a rape investigation in India; and Emil Michael, Uber’s controversial former SVP of business who left the company in 2017, though it remains unknown if he resigned or was fired.
His career at Uber might have ended in 2017, after former Uber engineer Susan Fowler publicly accused Pham and Uber’s HR department of ignoring her complaints about workplace sexism. An external investigation cleared him, however.
Pham — who was recruited by Kalanick from VMWare, where he’d spent the previous eight years — stood to make more than $200 million from Uber’s IPO last year, according to Business Insider. At the time, he owned 5.4 million shares.
His is an American success story. At age 12, Pham escaped Vietnam with his mother and brother in a fishing boat that was reportedly carrying dozens of other refugees. After first spending 10 months at camp in Indonesia that he has described as having no sanitation and offering only a tarp over their heads, his family later arrived in Maryland and Pham, an excellent student, wound up studying at MIT.
Pham would go on to nab a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the university before being drawn to job in Silicon Valley, at the research lab of Hewlett Packard.
He only stayed three years. In an extensive interview with CNN in 2016, he said grew „bored” at HP so joined Silicon Graphics, whose cofounder, Jim Clark, would later cofound Netscape with a young Marc Andreessen.
„It was a significant move,” he told the outlet, „but I broke my mom’s heart. She thought I was reckless. In her view, I should have stayed to build a career at a stable company like HP for 30 years and retire with a gold watch.”
Pham spoke at a startup event in February, roughly one month before the Bay Area instituted its shelter-in-place rules. You can check out the talk below.
#JustWearScrubs: GOP chairwoman tells anti-lockdown protesters to impersonate health care workers by Dylan Stableford Senior Writer•
Last week, after images of health care workers in hospital gear facing down demonstrators protesting stay-at-home orders went viral, Dr. Kelli Ward, chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party, urged demonstrators calling for businesses to reopen to dress in scrubs and masks to confuse reporters.“Planning protest to #ReOpenAmerica?” Ward tweeted on Friday. “EVERYONE wear scrubs and masks — the media doesn’t care if you are really in healthcare or not — it’s the ‘message’ that matters!”
Ward added the hashtags #ProblemSolved, #WeAreAllHeroic, #1A, and #JustWearScrubs.
Her tweet came after health care workers were photographed in Colorado and Arizona counterprotesting at rallies against social restrictions, which are meant to help stop the spread of COVID-19.The pandemic has killed more than 55,000 people in the United States and sickened nearly 1 million Americans, including more than 6,000 in Arizona. Public health experts are overwhelmingly warning that ending the restrictions too quickly risks prolonging and worsening the outbreak.Ward, a doctor of osteopathic medicine and a conspiracy-mongering former state senator, is known for her far-right views and controversial comments about the late Sen. John McCain. She accused the counterprotesting health care workers of being “actors,” a charge often used by conspiracy-minded commentators such as Alex Jones to discredit movements they oppose.“If anyone’s status as a health care professional should be questioned it’s Dr. Kelli Ward’s, considering her unwillingness to promote the advice of health experts,” Matt Grodsky, spokesman for the Arizona Democratic Party, said in a statement.
Governors of all 50 states had issued some restrictions, if not full lockdown measures, to combat the coronavirus. Restrictions were lifted in four states — Alaska, Georgia, Oklahoma and South Carolina — last week. Arizona’s stay-at-home order is set to expire on April 30.
Ward’s suggestion for protesters to impersonate health care professionals highlights part of an increasingly vocal fringe resistance to coronavirus restrictions.
A Yahoo News/YouGov poll released April 20 found that 60 percent of Americans oppose the protests, while just 22 percent support them. The same poll found that 71 percent of respondents were more concerned about opening things up too quickly versus too slowly.
And while the protests had the appearance of spontaneous demonstrations by angry citizens, many were in fact organized by conservative activists and pushed by Republican-allied gun groups. Demonstrators in several states with open-carry laws showed up at the rallies toting guns in what appeared to be an effort to intimidate counterprotesters.
Others promoting protests against stay-at-home orders have likened such measures to Nazi Germany.
“Know how the Nazis first sold concentration camps?” tweeted Robert Barnes, a lawyer for the conspiracy-peddling Infowars website, which has organized several of the protests. “They called it a quarantine.”
Click here for the latest coronavirus news and updates. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please refer to the CDC’s and WHO’s resource guides.
Virus Outbreak Japan Daily Life
BANGKOK (AP) — As governments move forward with plans to ease coronavirus restrictions, health officials around the globe are calling on the public to remain vigilant so that hard-won victories in the battle against the pandemic are not lost.
With South Koreans about to celebrate their longest holiday since infections there surged in February, authorities on Wednesday urged people to think twice about traveling and to continue to wear masks, not share food and stay home if they are feeling sick. Officials in Japan also asked people not to travel during that country’s upcoming Golden Week holiday.
“We must not let a moment of carelessness trigger mass transmissions that would make the efforts we invested so far vanish like bubbles of water,” South Korean Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip said.
South Korea was the first country after China to see an explosion in virus cases, but like many other previous hot spots, it has seen the number of cases drop off. It reported just nine new cases on Wednesday, and hasn’t seen a daily jump above 100 since April 1, allowing the government to relax its social distancing guidelines and prepare to reopen schools.
When and how to reopen has become a matter of intense debate around the world, perhaps no more so than in the United States. Some states there have started lifting their coronavirus restrictions piecemeal and according to their own, often arbitrary, timetables, leaving Americans to make their own decisions about what they should and should not do to protect their health, their livelihoods and their neighbors.
“There will never be a perfect amount of protection,” said Josh Santarpia, a microbiology expert at the University of Nebraska Medical Center who is studying the coronavirus. “It’s a personal risk assessment. Everybody has to decide, person by person, what risk they’re willing to tolerate.”
Jill Faust, 53, of Council Bluffs, Iowa, said she would hesitate to eat at an indoor restaurant when such businesses are allowed to reopen in her community Friday.
“We would have to know ahead of time what precautions they’re taking,” she said, citing the way some restaurants may rely on limited seating, well-spaced tables, masks for employees and disposable cups and plates. Even then, she said, it might not be worth the trouble.
“Going to a restaurant to me is this lovely, relaxing experience where you can sit with people and relax and catch up after a long day. If your experience is going to be limited by all these safety concerns, why spend the money?” she said.
Such decisions will become far more frequent in the coming weeks as officials around the world face increasing pressure to take steps to revive economies battered by lockdowns now that the health crisis appears to be easing. France, Spain and Greece were among the latest countries to announce roadmaps for reopening businesses and schools.
Pope Francis waded into the debate about virus-imposed shutdowns of religious services just days after Italian bishops complained that Italy’s government offered no provisions for Masses to resume in its plan to reopen.
“As we are beginning to have protocols to get out of quarantine, let us pray that the Lord gives his people, all of us, the grace of prudence and obedience to the protocols so that the pandemic doesn’t return,” Francis said.
As restrictions loosen, health authorities will be watching closely for any sign of a resurgence of the virus.
On Tuesday, for example, Germany reported an uptick in the infection rate since some small businesses were allowed to reopen just over a week ago. But it was too soon to say whether the loosening was to blame. In Singapore, which was praised for its early response to the virus, a new outbreak among migrant workers led the government to extend its social distancing regulations until June.
Around the world, confirmed infections stood at more than 3.1 million — including 1 million in the U.S. — and the confirmed global death toll topped 217,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. The true toll is believed to be much higher because of limited testing, differences in counting the dead and government concealment.
In the U.S., the uncertainty ahead was spotlighted in Georgia after businesses such as barber shops and tattoo parlors were given the go-ahead to reopen.
Savannah Mayor Van Johnson said people could find the changes perplexing.
“In reality, we’re under a stay-at-home order until April 30,” Johnson said. “Yet you can go get your nails done, you can go get a tattoo, you can go to movie theaters, you can go to bowling alleys. It’s those kinds of things that leave people confused.”
Mixed messages are coming from even the U.S. Congress. The House is scrambling for ways for members to work from home after a revolt over convening during the pandemic, and said they wouldn’t return to the Capitol on Monday. The smaller Senate, however, plans to convene there.
In China, where the virus first emerged late last year, the government announced that its ceremonial parliament will be held late next month after its original meeting was postponed. The convening of the full session, which would encompass about 3,000 members, is a sign of China’s growing confidence that it has largely overcome the pandemic.
In Japan, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike on Wednesday called for an extension of a nationwide “state of emergency,” which urges people to stay home and practice social distancing. She noted that reported daily cases of the virus in Tokyo have topped 100 people recently.
Associated Press journalists around the world contributed to this report.
- A group of German doctors working on the front lines of the coronavirus are nakedly protesting a lack of personal protective equipment.
- One of the doctors told Arztezeitung, a German magazine for doctors, the nudity was a symbol of how vulnerable health workers were without personal protective equipment.
- As of April 28, Germany had 158,758 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 6,126 deaths according to Johns Hopkins University data.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories
A group of German doctors, concerned over a lack of protective healthcare equipment, is baring it all to protest their lack of protective equipment.
The group calls itself Blanke Bedenken, which translates to „Blank Concerns” on Google Translate, but according to The Guardian it’s also known as „Naked Qualms.” The group was started by German healthcare workers who were worried about the country’s lack of personal protective equipment, as they treat people with the coronavirus, according to The Guardian.
The equipment is necessary to protect workers from the coronavirus, and the group said they were frustrated after spending months requesting equipment only to be ignored by the government. So they threw off their clothes in protest.
One of the doctors in the group named Ruben Bernau told Arztezeitung, a German magazine for doctors: „The nudity is a symbol of how vulnerable we are without protection.”
Another doctor said she was „trained to sew up wounds” according to The Guardian, and asked: „Why am I now having to sew my own face mask?”
As of April 27, Germany had 158,758 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 6,126 deaths according to Johns Hopkins University data.
On March 5, after pressures grew for PPE in Germany, the government banned exporting medical protection gear so the country wouldn’t run out of masks, gloves, and suits.
But that wasn’t enough for Blanke Bedenken, which took aim at Germany’s government on its website. The group claimed Germany’s government said it was prepared for the coronavirus in February, but protective clothing, disinfectants, and disposable masks had since been used up.
It also claimed that despite concerns about inadequately being able to protect themselves healthcare workers continued to provide care in Germany.
The campaign was inspired by a French doctor named Alain Colombie, who photographed himself naked in his practice and called the outcome „cannon fodder.”
Read the original article on Insider
FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Volkswagen on Wednesday said it expected to be profitable on a full-year basis even as the coronavirus pandemic caused first-quarter earnings to plunge.
Earlier this month, Volkswagen Group said car sales dropped by 23% on the year, causing operating profit to tumble 81% in the January to March period, forcing the car and trucks manufacturer to withdraw its outlook for 2020.
In February Volkswagen had said it aimed to achieve customer deliveries in line with the previous year, revenue growth of 4% in 2020 and slightly higher passenger car deliveries.
(Reporting by Edward Taylor; Editing by Michelle Martin)
Ford Motor Co. and its competitors have warned for weeks that their finances are teetering on the brink of uncertainty as a global pandemic continues to brutalize the U.S. economy and bring manufacturing to a standstill.
While the current landscape is grim, coming months promise to be unrelenting.
The cold reality for Ford: On Tuesday it reported a $2 billion loss in the first three months of 2020.
This is Ford’s first quarterly earnings net loss since April 2009 during the Great Recession.
The company reported Tuesday that first-quarter earnings before interest and taxes — adjusted EBIT — was negative $632 million, down from a positive $2.4 billion in the first quarter of 2019 and $2.2 billion a year earlier. Net income was negative $2 billion, down from a positive $1.1 billion in the same quarter last year, when it slipped from $1.7 billion in 2018.
Tim Stone, chief financial officer at Ford, told reporters on a conference call Tuesday that the company is confident it has enough money to operate „through the end of the year.”
Ford ends the quarter with $34 billion in cash on hand and $35 billion in liquidity.
A year ago, Ford had $24 billion in cash on hand and $35 million in liquidity.
“I’m more confident than ever in what we’re going to accomplish in the future,” Stone said, noting that the company is cutting marketing, advertising, deferring costs and working to shore up spending wherever possible.
He declined to forecast cash flow details in coming months, saying only that he was optimistic that the team has the situation under control.
Possible merger for Ford?
Adam Jonas, a respected automotive analyst at Morgan Stanley, said the time is now for a „strategic discussion” among Ford board members and top executives about consolidation or a merger in light of the intense demands for cash and liquidity over the next year or two – possibly with Volkswagen.
„They have to reassess: ‘What are we in China? What are we really fighting for in Europe?'” Jonas said during an Automotive News podcast aired Monday. „We don’t think they can necessarily do what some of their Detroit brethren have done in Europe in terms of a full exit so quickly. But those things have got to be looked at . … ‘Are we a global automaker anymore?’ I know that might be a tough pill to swallow when you’re from Ford. … But you’ve just got to rip the Band-Aid off.”
Ford and VW began a limited collaboration in January 2019, centered on development of commercial vans and pickups in certain markets starting in 2022, and expanded their relationship in July to partner on autonomous driving and electrification.
The companies have remained fiercely independent, noting they are competitors and the deal involved no „cross ownership.”
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What is Ford outside US?
But the market may force change, Jonas said. He questioned whether the world needs dozens of automakers globally, rather than maybe just 10.
„So that Ford-Volkswagen relationship, we think the importance of where that’s really going is elevated,” Jonas said. „It doesn’t have to be a full merger, although I wouldn’t rule anything out. But that strategic fit, geographic fit of – Volkswagen’s not super relevant in the United States, frankly, given their size and global scale. And then, what is Ford outside of the United States? I think even by their own admission, not much.”
Ford and Volkswagen spokespersons declined to comment on Tuesday.
Ford factories plan reopening: Company recalls skeleton crew to begin factory prep amid worker anxiety
For now, Ford and the Detroit Three automakers will continue to struggle as they and other industries navigate the economic train wreck created by COVID-19.
Ford CEO Jim Hackett told investors on a call after release of the earnings report that Ford has lost 11 colleagues in the U.S. and the United Kingdom to the highly contagious coronavirus. Now the company needs to emerge from the pandemic „to build a brighter future” by focusing on operational excellence.
Jim Farley, chief operating officer, said, „I know we’ll come out of this a lot stronger. We need to be agile and have a bias toward action and be very transparent.”
He outlined strategies that account for pandemic challenges, including selling one-third of vehicles online in China already. „In the face of significant demand disruption, Ford China delivered year over year improvements. … The actions we took in China have become best practice for us.”
Ford sees opportunity to reassess its growth plan and seize on lifestyle changes inspired by the pandemic, affecting „how customers will live and work for years to come,” Farley said. „There is no grace period for transforming Ford.”
But the second quarter is expected to be brutal, with Stone forecasting a possible $5 billion loss. The automaker sees COVID-19 fallout as worsening before it improves.
Ford sales dip, but Lincoln gets lift
When Ford reported its earnings for the first quarter of 2020 on Tuesday, the financials reflected a dip in Ford vehicle sales and a slight spike in Lincoln sales, driven by the Aviator SUV and the Continental sedan.
Car buyers haven’t been shy about parting with money, according to Kelley Blue Book:
- Ford is selling fewer vehicles at a higher profit per customer, with price tags up 4% for a Ford and up 8% for a Lincoln.
- The average transaction price for a Ford is $43,311, due mostly to the Explorer, Escape and Mustang. The average cost of the F-Series held steady at $51,585.
- The average transaction price of a Lincoln was $58,503, influenced mostly by the Aviator with an average price of $67,863. That’s the second highest transaction price behind the Navigator at nearly $90,000.
It is highly unusual for Ford to lose money in North America, where consumer spending drives company profits. The company’s market share is holding steady.
Meanwhile, Ford Credit saw earnings of $30 million, compared to $801 million in 2019, confirmed spokesman Brad Carroll. „We’re increasing our credit loss reserve by $486 million due to COVID-19.”
Off-lease auction car values are dropping, and that has impact, Stone explained to investors. „We do expect used vehicle markets to normalize over time.”
The automaker reported a first quarter loss of 23 cents per share, adjusted, or a loss of 50 cents per share diluted, missing Wall Street analyst expectations.
Hackett has been talking about the company’s „fitness” since he took the job in May 2017, promising to restructure the 116-year-old company in a way that eliminates waste and enhances strengths, and he praised the shift away from sedans and toward technology when talking to investors.
Cox Automotive data illustrated a grim overall landscape:
- Ford sold 514,526 vehicles during the first three months of the year, down 11% from 2019. The Ford brand dropped 12% while Lincoln spiked 2%, one of the few brands in the entire auto industry to report an increase.
- The Ford F-Series, which is scheduled for a redesign this year, saw a 13% sales drop. The new Escape plummeted 21% for its lowest volume of any first quarter in at least five years. Ford Expedition dropped 9%; the new Ford Explorer, stalled by production problems, dropped 9%. Ford Edge slipped 4%.
- A key area of strength is again the Ford commercial van business, which isn’t hurt by the surge in home deliveries during a pandemic. Sales of the full-size E-Series vans were up 122% to more than 20,000 units sold while sales of the full-size Transit van jumped 16%. The smaller Transit Connect van, however, fell 15%.
No Rivian deal
Also Tuesday, Ford and Rivian put their plans on ice indefinitely to jointly develop a Lincoln-branded electric vehicle. The current economy has created new and unexpected challenges, so this particular project is „eliminated,” said Angie Kozleski, Lincoln spokeswoman. „The environment is changing rapidly. Just as any prudent business would do, we continue to review and adjust our plans accordingly.”
Lincoln officials informed their U.S. dealers via conference calls on Tuesday afternoon, saying Lincoln is still committed to having its own electric vehicle one day, she said.
In 2019, Ford invested $500 million in Rivian. Then in January of this year, Ford announced its plans for the Lincoln project.
„Our partnership with Rivian remains strong and unchanged,” Kozleski told the Free Press.
‘Cash is king’
David Kudla, CEO and chief investment strategist with Mainstay Capital Management, a Grand Blanc investment adviser who manages $2.7 billion in assets for clients who include many Ford employees, noted Ford proactively alerted investors that revenue for the first three quarters of the year would fall below expectations at around $34 billion along with a net loss of about $2 billion.
Now people are eagerly waiting to hear more about factories reopening and product launches, he said. Ford has the Ford F-150, Bronco and Mustang Mach-E planned. The company has declined to reveal how launches have been impacted though media briefings have been postponed indefinitely.
„Cash is king for industrial companies during a crisis, and we expect that the company’s cash burn will be the new point of focus,” Kudla said. „Ford’s management has done a commendable job bolstering their balance sheet by drawing down credit lines and suspending shareholder return programs.”
One year ago, market analyst Jon Gabrielsen, who tracks industry trends for automotive clients, predicted that Ford needed to take conservative measures despite upbeat predictions from Ford executives.
“Ford faces a series of headwinds including a likely beginning of auto cycle downturns in North America and Europe, tariffs, Mexican border slowdowns and threatened border closings, a China that very well may not turn back up in the second half, continual random saber-rattling from Washington, D.C., an environment of general business uncertainty and anxiety, and UAW and Unifor contract negotiations,” he said.
As it turned out, Gabrielsen identified just about every challenge over the past year.
Recession has been a whispered concern but no one ever considered pandemic.
Michelle Krebs, executive analyst at the online marketplace Autotrader.com, said, „We are seeing some positive signs of recovery, but we are in dynamic and evolving situation, making it impossible to predict the future. The virus and how we manage it will determine the future.”
Meanwhile, elected officials know things are bleak.
U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, a Democrat from Dearborn, told the Free Press on Tuesday, „What we’re trying to do now is work with the ecosystem, trying to understand the impact of COVID on the autoworkers, the manufacturers, the supplier community, the dealers — and figure out what kind of support they need.”
Wall Street responded instantly to the Ford earnings forecast of a second quarter loss exceeding $5 billion after earnings before interest and taxes.
Garrett Nelson, senior equity analyst at CFRA Research, downgraded Ford shares to a „sell” from a „hold” recommendation, saying, „We expect monthly auto sales to bottom in April, but do not anticipate a sharp rebound … with a potential liquidity crunch looming as its cash burn accelerates.”
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Ford’s first quarterly report for 2020 the worst since Great Recession
SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s SK Innovation Co Ltd, a supplier for Volkswagen <VOWG_p.DE> and Ford Motors, will spend $727 million to build its second electric vehicle (EV) battery plant in the United States, the company said on Tuesday.
Construction of the plant with annual capacity of 11.7 gigawatt-hours of batteries will begin in July in the southern state of Georgia with production aimed for 2023, the firm, already building its first factory there, said in a statement.
It will make a further investment in its second U.S. factory, bringing total spending to about $1.5 billion, a company representative told Reuters, without specifying a timeframe.
The firm plans investment of 1.2 trillion won ($903 million)in its first U.S. factory, with capacity of 9.8 GWh intended to serve Volkswagen’s EV base in neighbouring Tennessee, and production on track to begin in 2022.
SK Innovation, South Korea’s biggest oil refiner, has rapidly expanded into EV batteries, with factories in South Korea, China and Hungary.
It is also involved in a legal battle in the United States with South Korean rival LG Chem Ltd. A win for LG Chem could stop SK Innovation from importing EV batteries and components.
This month, researcher Wood Mackenzie forecast a drop of 43% this year in global sales of electric vehicles (EV), to 1.3 million units, hit by the coronavirus outbreak, lower oil prices and consumers’ wait-and-see approach to purchases of new models.
(Reporting by Heekyong Yang and Hyunjoo Jin, Editing by Susan Fenton and Clarence Fernandez)