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CHART OF THE WEEK

Xi's anti-corruption campaign puts mainland liquor-makers in low spirits

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 04 February, 2013, 4:46am

Chinese Communist Party chief Xi Jinping’s call for party officials to cut down on booze-filled banquets spells the end of an era of stock outperformance by premium liquor-makers. 

The chart of the week shows Kweichow Moutai has plunged 20 per cent since the start of November, the month when Xi was promoted to party general secretary. The spirits producer was the second-worst performer among the 994 securities in the Shanghai Composite Index, with Sichuan Swellfun declining most. Moutai’s premium to the benchmark index has narrowed  to the least in seven years on a price-to-reported-earnings basis.

China’s new leadership pledged to live more frugally. Xi warned that unless corruption is reduced at all levels, social unrest may rise and lead to the party’s demise. Drinking of expensive spirits by officials is a symbol of extravagance, says Su Cheng, an analyst at Bank of China.

“The use of baijiu [spirits]  at government and official  meetings has been under much scrutiny,” says Su.

Mainland officials account for about a third of the nation’s high-end liquor consumption, Fortune CLSA Securities analyst Song Lihua says. Moutai shares rallied almost 3,500 per cent in the decade through October, beating every other stock in Shanghai, as China’s surging economy under President Hu Jintao spurred consumption and a taste for luxury goods. A half-litre bottle of the spirit sells for around 1,700 yuan (HK$2,100) in stores.

Moutai fell to 13th place this year from fifth in 2012 among the top brands picked by Chinese millionaires as gifts for friends and business contacts, according to a survey by Hurun Report. 

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