How CEOs see today’s coronavirus world

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The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdowns are altering how businesses operate. Here is how some leaders of the world’s biggest companies described in recent days the changes they are seeing.

Snap Inc. CEO Evan

In this Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013, file photo, Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel poses for a photo in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

“We believe that this will accelerate the digital transformation across many businesses, and that the heightened levels of activity we are seeing today will lead to a sustained uplift in the digital economy over time,” Mr. Spiegel said.

Coca-Cola Co. CEO James Quincey

This Thursday, April 28, 2016, photo shows bottles of Coca-Cola in Concord, N.H. Coca-Cola Co. reports financial results Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

“We may be at the end of the big global lockdown, but we are still a long way from the new normal,” Mr. Quincey said.

“It’s not so much of a time for trying out all sorts of new and different things if incomes are under pressure,” Mr. Quincey said. “You tend to go back to what is known. There will be some favoring of tried and trusted in the short term.”


Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. CEO Brian Niccol

A Chipotle Mexican Grill is seen in Los Angeles, California, U.S. on April 25, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

“You spend a lot of your time ensuring how you can execute your business in this environment in a safe way,” Mr. Niccol said in an interview. “You look back on history, and after 1918 flu came the roaring 20s. We got through it then, and we can get through it now. People are resilient.”

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
SNAP SNAP INC. 14.14 +0.31 +2.24%
KO THE COCA-COLA CO. 58.64 +0.20 +0.34%
CMG CHIPOTLE MEXICAN GRILL INC. 2,233.83 +31.58 +1.43%

Texas Instruments Inc. CEO Richard Templeton

Mr. Templeton said Texas Instruments plans to keep chip production at its factories steady to be positioned for an economic recovery, given its experience in the 2008 financial crisis.

“With the benefit of hindsight, our customers overcorrected to the downside, and we then spent a year and a half chasing back up to support demand,” he said of the last recession. With this crisis, “we want to ensure that we have the highest degree of optionality so that we can deal successfully with any outcome.”

Netflix Inc. CEO Reed Hastings

Reed Hastings, co-founder and CEO of Netflix, delivers a keynote address at the 2016 CES trade show in Las Vegas, Nevada in this January 6, 2016, file photo. REUTERS/Steve Marcus/Files

“We had an increase in subscriber growth in March. It’s essentially a pull-forward at the rest of the year. So, our guess is that subs will be light in Q3 and Q4 relative to prior years because of that.

“But we don’t use the words guess and guesswork lightly. We use them because it’s a bunch of us feeling the wind. And it’s hard to say. But again, will internet entertainment be more and more important over the next five years? Nothing has changed in that,” Mr. Hastings said.


Blackstone Group Inc. President Jonathan Gray

“We’re certainly not in the ‘V’ camp. We’ve been debating what the shape is,” Mr. Gray told The Wall Street Journal. “I think it’s an elongated recovery. That’s why we’re not rushing to invest.”

AT&T Inc. CEO Randall Stephenson

Chief Executive Officer of AT&T Randall Stephenson speaks during a moderated discussion before the Economic Club of New York, in New York City, U.S., November 29, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid - RC148DAD8800

The pandemic will probably have “long-lasting implications for many things we used to take for granted, like how we congregate, work, travel, interact.” But “[b]ottom line, we have very little visibility,” Mr. Stephenson said.

“We bring in the smartest and the most genius economists in the world, and you can bring a dozen of them in, and the range of possible outcomes just for the second quarter of 2020 is unbelievably wide,” he said.


Las Vegas Sands Corp. CEO Sheldon Adelson

Sheldon Adelson attends Friends of The Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) Western Region Gala at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on November 1, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Shahar Azran/Getty Images)

Mr. Adelson said the casino operator is continuing with a $2.2 billion capital investment plan for its Macau resorts, despite gambling revenue in the Chinese territory being down.

“Now is not the time to pause or slow down investment in Macau,” Mr. Adelson said. “We see the opportunity and possess both the financial strength and the strategic commitment to make additional investment. With our effort to accelerate investment in Macau, we intend to play a part in supporting the local economy in the short term, and ensure we are in the leading position to capture the eventual recovery in tourism spending.”

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
NFLX NETFLIX INC. 465.74 -8.23 -1.74%
BX BLACKSTONE 114.28 +1.91 +1.70%
T AT&T INC. 16.76 +0.19 +1.15%
LVS LAS VEGAS SANDS CORP. 46.80 +0.68 +1.47%

International Business Machines Corp. CEO Arvind Krishna

Arvind Krishna speaks on stage during the 2016 Wired Business Conference on June 16, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images for Wired)

“It was a tough decision to withdraw guidance. But these are unprecedented times, and this quarter is not the time to declare that we have clarity—that does not benefit us, and it does not benefit you as investors and analysts,” Mr. Krishna said.

Domino’s Pizza Inc. CEO Ritch Allison

In this Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013, file photo, a worker prepares boxes at a Domino's pizza restaurant in Lagos, Nigeria. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba, File)

“The restaurant industry is facing an existential crisis, and no one knows how many restaurants will survive, or what form the industry will take,” Mr. Allison said. “We also don’t know how consumer behaviors and purchasing patterns may evolve.”

“I don’t think consumers are going to snap right back to the old patterns and behaviors.”

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
DPZ DOMINO'S PIZZA INC. 397.18 +4.29 +1.09%
KMB KIMBERLY-CLARK CORP. 124.63 +0.59 +0.48%
SLB SCHLUMBERGER NV 52.39 +0.35 +0.67%


Kimberly-Clark Corp. CEO Michael Hsu

“I don’t think we ever felt like we would be arguing over epidemiological models, and we are. And we’re working through—actually through 11 of them—and they all have different assumptions. While that makes it difficult for us to call the business for this purpose, I will tell you from an operating perspective, we are using those models to predict outcomes to drive scenario planning and contingency plans for all of our operations around the world,” Mr. Hsu said.

Schlumberger Ltd. CEO Olivier Le Peuch

Despite the recent agreement by the world’s largest oil producers to cut production, “Q2 is likely to be the most uncertain and disruptive quarter that the industry has ever seen,” Mr. Le Peuch said.

“It will require a level of response and depth of resilience that have yet to be fully realized. The actions we have taken so far have been focused on those things we can control in protecting our business—with a clear priority on cash and liquidity—in an uncertain industry and global environment,” Mr. Le Peuch said.