Hearing implants business Cochlear and oOh!media withdraw guidance

Hearing implants business Cochlear (ASX: COH) and billboard advertising group oOh!media (ASX: OML) have joined the growing list of companies withdrawing guidance due to coronavirus-related uncertainty.

With healthcare providers either fast-tracking elective surgery or putting it on hold to shore up capacity for Covid-19 patients, many countries have put cochlear implant surgeries on hold.

"Since the update we provided on 18 February, we have seen COVID-19 spread rapidly across many countries," says Cochlear CEO and president Dig Howitt.

"We are now seeing a growing number of health authorities either recommend or enforce surgery deferrals.

"Over the weekend, the US Surgeon General has urged hospitals and healthcare systems to consider suspending elective surgical procedures in an effort to reduce the strain on the healthcare system until the rate of infection of COVID-19 is under control."

Howitt expects these actions to impact surgeries in our major markets, particularly the US and Western Europe.

"The business has been on track to deliver its earnings guidance driven by strong growth in cochlear implant system sales across the developed markets. However, we expect to experience a significant decline in sales in the immediate future," says Howitt.

"As a result, we are not in a position to provide an earnings outlook to the market at this time and withdraw our earnings guidance for FY20."

As for oOh!media, revenue for the year to date has been in line with the prior corresponding period and performance has been consistent with previous guidance.

However, the company notes the "deteriorating macroeconomic conditions and resultant market uncertainty caused by COVID-19" have made forecasting full year revenue in the current environment difficult.

The full-year result is even more uncertain than most for the advertising group given it follows a calendar year for the reporting and still has nine months to go in its FY20.

"In accordance with its continuous disclosure obligations, oOh! therefore advises that it has withdrawn FY20 earnings guidance for the time being," the company says.

Other companies that have withdrawn guidance include Qantas (ASX: QAN), Webjet (ASX: WEB), Helloworld (ASX: HLO), Flight Centre (ASX: FLT), Corporate Travel Management (ASX: CTD) and Apollo Tourism & Leisure (ASX: ATL).

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Updated at 11:28am AEDT on 16 March 2020.

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