March 19, 2020 / 5:33 AM / 13 days ago

Swiss stocks - Factors to watch on March 19

ZURICH/BERLIN, March 19 (Reuters) - The Swiss blue-chip SMI was seen opening 0.3% higher at 8,366 points on Thursday, according to premarket indications from bank Julius Baer.

Here are some of the main factors that may affect Swiss stocks:

CREDIT SUISSE

The Swiss bank said on Thursday that business in the first quarter had been going well despite economic turmoil linked to the coronavirus epidemic.

ROCHE

Roche will test its arthritis drug Actemra in patients with coronavirus-linked pneumonia, the Swiss drugmaker said on Thursday, joining other pharmaceutical companies seeking to re-purpose existing medicines to fight the epidemic.

NOVARTIS

The Swiss drugmaker’s gene therapy Zolgensma, the world’s costliest one-time treatment at $2.1 million per patient, won Japanese approval to be used to treat patients under the age of two who have the genetic disease spinal muscular atrophy.

CORONAVIRUS

The European Central Bank launched new bond purchases worth 750 billion euros at an emergency meeting in a bid to stop a pandemic-induced financial rout shredding the euro zone’s economy and renew concerns about the bloc’s viability.

The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation providing billions of dollars to limit the damage from the coronavirus pandemic through free testing, paid sick leave and expanded safety-net spending.

SWISS

Lufthansa unit Swiss International Air Lines said on Thursday it is experiencing massive revenue losses in 2020 and that short-term measures to safeguard liquidity are the top priority as the coronavirus lays waste to global travel.

SWISS NATIONAL BANK

The Swiss National Bank increased its foreign currency interventions to 13.2 billion Swiss francs ($13.67 billion)during 2019, nearly six times more than a year earlier, the central bank said on Thursday.

Rate decision due at 0830 GMT

SIX SWISS EXCHANGE

Spain’s stock market regulator CNMV has issued a favourable recommendation for the Spanish government to approve a proposed takeover of Madrid stock exchange BME by SIX, a CNMV spokesman said.

SWATCH GROUP

2019 annual report published

SWISS RE

2019 annual report published

COMPANY STATEMENTS

* Bucher Industries said it is temporarily shutting down production sites in France due to the coronavirus pandemic. It also said its AGM will be held without physical attendance of shareholders.

* Comet Holding said it generated net income of 12.0 million Swiss francs last year, in line with the year-earlier level, and would propose a dividend of 1.00 franc per share. It said the coronavirus made it impossible to provide an outlook for this year.

* IGEA Pharma said demand for dry aerosol devices is exploding due to the coronavirus outbreak in Italy and announced it is enhancing production capacities.

* Metall Zug increased sales by 1.7 % to 1.22 billion Swiss francs due to acquisitions, while the operating result was impacted largely by costs and lost income resulting from the ERP transition at V-ZUG.

* Valora said it would postpone its annual general meeting initially scheduled for March 24. A new date will be communicated in due time.

* Zur Rose Group said its net loss widened to 52.4 million francs in 2019 due to increased write-offs in connection with the companies acquired. It said it aimed to break even in 2020 at the EBITDA level after adjusting for expenditure on additional growth initiatives.

* Cassiopea said it is being forced to do a capital increase in the range of 15-20 million euros at the latest by end of May because Italian law forbids companies from operating with negative equity. It is considering asking external investors for money or a rights offering with existing investors.

* Lastminute.com said it has seen a sharp decline in booking from mid-February to and from Italy due to the coronavirus and expects the situation to continue for some time, adding the epidemic’s impact on financial results cannot be reliably assessed.

ANALYSTS’ VIEWS

ADECCO - Credit Suisse cuts target price to chf 30 from chf 48

GALENICA - Credit Suisse raises target price to chf 61 from chf 56

RICHEMONT - Credit Suisse cuts target price to chf 52 from chf 69

OC OERLIKON - RBC cuts target price to chf 8.60 from chf 12

SCHINDLER - RBC cuts to underperform from sector perform; cuts price target to chf 205 from chf 240

SWISSCOM AG: JEFEFRIES RAISES TARGET PRICE TO CHF 460 FROM CHF 432

ECONOMY

* The publication of the Swiss government’s economic forecast has been postponed to 1300 GMT.

* Switzerland ran a merchandise trade surplus of 3.573 billion Swiss francs in February, the Federal Customs Office said on Thursday.

* Swiss watch exports fell 9.2% in February with very sharp declines in Hong Kong and mainland China.

Reporting by Zurich newsroom and Berlin Speed Desk

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