As Troy, Darko and I walked through Robina Shopping Centre past closed shops and empty hallways today, it strikes you how quickly an environment can change. We were going to Woollies to collect some bits and pieces for end of month drinks. We talked about not holding them but decided we still could as long as everyone was spaced in a large part of the office with their own plates and utensils as opposed to all crowded into our board room. That was not a conversation a month ago. A month ago you would not see empty shelves in supermarkets but this is the new normal.
Quick office update:
We are still open but have been testing staff working from home, with all trying it and giving feedback on what they can and can’t do. The technology that is available when you start to make these decision is very impressive. We are assisted by having all of our and your information in secure cloud systems and we have also upgraded home office solutions with increased anti (computer) virus security. I think Trend Micro is doing just fine through this crisis. Our staff will still be working and accessible via the normal phone system and email – they just mightn’t be sitting in Robina. Our preference is to hold all meetings via video conferencing through these next few months and we have trialled various software’s. Our pick is Zoom, as we think it makes it much easier at your end. We still want to stay in regular contact as there is lot going on in investment markets so while it may not seem a priority with everything else happening in your lives, you will still be our priority so we need to able to contact you.
I may be a little paranoid but I think the Federal and State governments have been working us steadily towards complete shutdown but trying not to scare us. I am happy to be wrong but I won’t be surprised if have further restrictions by Monday. If this is the case we ready and the transition of the business will be relatively seamless. (Might just be the occasional sounds of ‘domestic bliss’ in the background – whole families trapped in houses, what could go wrong)
We are by no means done with volatility so even though there were positive signs this week, that was off some HUGE fiscal stimulus packages announced by the governments around the world. They will not new news next week and the number of Coronavirus cases in Australia will still be increasing. The increase in Coronavirus is simply math. We have 2,985 confirmed cases @ 26 March 2020 and every one of those people will have infected a number of others in the last two weeks. The people they have in their lives will now be tested and you can bet they will find lots more cases. Australia has one of the highest testing rates in the world, over 480 per 100,000 of population, so we are testing a high percentage and will therefore find a lot of infection. To get our infection rate down they will want us to stop us moving and mixing, hence we will be shut down and only be able to leave the house for essentials. Before you panic, there is lots of food and the farmers are only struggling to get enough workers ABC – Farmers call for calm and apparently alcohol supplies are still fine as well, so no need to back the truck up to Dan Murphy’s. Investment markets will swing back and forth with the news cycle at the moment, but our analysts are not seeing a lot more downside risk. They are definitely seeing buying opportunities and taking them, but as one analysts said this week, there is plenty more wood to chop. The only point we would make is that historically a large portion of positive returns are made when you go from ‘bad’ to ‘not so bad’. When certainty returns a lot of the performance is already built in. We will be talking to many of you about this in the coming weeks as this is also an opportunity for those who are currently out of the market.
It is the weekend so we are done but please stay safe and look after you and yours. AS always if you have any concerns, talk to us, that is what we are here for.
Paul Forbes, CEO