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Apple Looks to Reopen Retail Stores as Soon as April

Apple is considering reopening some retail stores on a staggered basis as soon as next month following a two-week global closure amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Apple  (AAPL) - Get Report is considering reopening at least some of its retail stores outside of Greater China on a staggered basis as soon as next month following a two-week global closure amid the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a memo from Senior Vice President of People and Retail Deirdre O’Brien obtained by Bloomberg, the company is considering reopening its 458 retail stores located outside of Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, though continuing having its non-retail staff work from home until at least April 5.

“For all of our retail stores outside of Greater China, we will reopen our stores on a staggered basis. At this time, we anticipate some stores may be able to open in the first half of April depending on the conditions in their community,” O’Brien said in the memo, according to Bloomberg. 

“We will provide updates for each store as soon as specific dates are established.”

Apple earlier this month closed all of its retail stores outside Mainland China on an indefinite basis as part of an effort to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. It previously closed its 42 China stores, but those have since all reopened.

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The memo to employees also said that remote work would be extended after Apple’s global offices outside of China were closed earlier this month, Bloomberg said.

“In all our offices outside of Greater China, we are extending flexible work arrangements for all team members - outside of those whose work requires them to be onsite - through at least April 5, which will then be reevaluated weekly depending on your location,” O’Brien reportedly told staff in the memo.

Apple was one of the first retailers to shut stores in response to the virus. It is donating millions of masks to healthcare professionals and matching employee donations to the cause.

Separately on Wednesday, Deutsche Bank analyst Jeriel Ong upgraded Apple to buy from hold, noting that investors are displaying “more emotion than reason” in terms of their view on the company’s stock price and broader valuation.

"While there are risks (retail closures, supply chain/timing disruptions, overall macro impacts to purchasing), we believe they are more near-term than long-term in nature," Ong said in a note to clients. He did lower his one-year price target to $270 from $295.

Shares of Apple were up 0.69% at $248.57 in trading on Wednesday.