Milk Bests Maotai as Xi Curbs Cadres’ Boozing: Chart of the Day

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s crackdown on booze-filled bureaucrats and support for the tainted dairy industry have led milk producers to supplant liquor makers as the nation’s top-performing beverage stocks.

The CHART OF THE DAY shows five of the largest dairy companies by market value rallied an average 114 percent since November 2012, the month Xi was promoted to party secretary pledging to curb extravagant banquets. The four biggest distillers and vintners dropped an average 52 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index added 2.9 percent.

Xi’s support helped dairy producers recover from scandals including tainted baby formula that killed at least six infants in 2008. His government plans to foster three to five large milk-powder producers to raise product standards and challenge foreign rivals, the China Securities Journal said in August.

“If earnings can meet expectations, shares will extend their rally,” Dennis Wang, an analyst at UBS AG, said by phone. “Booze-makers have been hurt by a corruption crackdown that had a bigger impact than expected, particularly on government bulk purchases.”

Kweichow Moutai Co., China’s biggest maker of maotai, the fiery liquor made from sorghum, tumbled 44 percent since Xi took office. In the decade under former President Hu Jintao’s rule, its shares soared more than 30-fold, the most in China, as a surging economy spurred a taste for indulgence. Government officials accounted for about a third of the nation’s high-end liquor consumption, Fortune CLSA Securities Ltd. analyst Song Lihua estimated in November 2012.

Biostime International Holdings Ltd., the Guangzhou-based baby formula maker, more than tripled in Hong Kong in the past 12 months, while Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group Co., the largest listed dairy company by market value, rallied 74 percent in Shanghai. China’s baby formula market was worth about $16 billion in 2012, according to industry analyst Mintel Group.

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