Shares in Irish cider and beer maker C&C tumbled by more as much as 8% after Ireland and other European countries moved to cancel public gatherings in an attempt to counter the further spread of the coronavirus.
The group’’s share price was generally down in tandem with the London Stock Exchange - where it is now singularly listed - and other markets as the virus-driven investor sell off continued.
In an otherwise generally positive trading update, C&C - which makes the twin cider brands Bulmers and Magners, as well as beers such as Five Lamps and Tennent’’s - said it is "monitoring closely" the virus impact, but gave no more detail on how it might affect its business.
"While we remain positive on the medium term outlook for C&C, driven by a more stable legacy business and continued growth opportunities arising from the MCB [UK drinks wholesaler Matthew Clark and Bibendum] acquisition, we recognise increased risk associated with COVID-19," said Goodbody analyst Patrick Higgins.
"While it is early to make any conclusions on the impact, we note the stock has fallen by around 24% since the week of February 21," he said.
C&C said it expects pre-tax earnings to be marginally ahead of current market estimates when it reports annual results, for the 12 months to the end of February, in May.
It also said it still expects to deliver mid-to-high single digit earnings per share growth over the medium term.
However, it said that its guidance assumes "no material or prolonged impact from COVID-19".
C&C also said that the process of appointing a new CEO is progressing, with global executive search firm Spencer Stuart involved in the search. Stephen Glancey stood down as CEO, after seven years, in January.
- The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
- Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department - if this is not possible, phone 112 or 999 and in a medical emergency (if you have severe symptoms) phone 112 or 999