Budweiser maker becomes latest to join coronavirus corporate casualty list

The world's biggest brewer, AB InBev, which makes Budweiser, Corona, and Stella Artois beers, along with car rental giants Hertz and Avis, and the shares of European airlines became the latest high-profile casualties of the coronavirus fallout.

Budweiser maker becomes latest to join coronavirus corporate casualty list

The world's biggest brewer, AB InBev, which makes Budweiser, Corona, and Stella Artois beers, along with car rental giants Hertz and Avis, and the shares of European airlines became the latest high-profile casualties of the coronavirus fallout.

Corporate giants Diageo, which makes Guinness, Smirnoff, and Baileys for world markets, including China, and foods giant Danone earlier this week warned that their sales would be hit as sales slowed dramatically in their key Asian markets.

Apple last week warned about the prolonged disruption that the shutdown of many cities in China has caused sales and to its supply chain from suppliers that make many of its products in the country.

Now, giant brewer AB InBev has followd Diageo in warning about a sales slump in China.

The outbreak, along with an expected weaker Brazilian market, could lead to a 10% drop in first-quarter core earnings year-on-year, AB InBev said.

The Belgium-based company, which sells more Budweiser in China than in the lager’s key US market, said the disease shaved up to €262m off its revenue in China in the first two months of this year, 2.3% of its first-quarter group revenue last year.

Shares in car-rental companies plunged after US health officials warned that the coronavirus could spread widely, possibly leading to stricter travel restrictions.

The Hertz Global Holdings and Avis Budget Group shares have each plunged more than 30% in three days.

Some of the world’s biggest employers already have suspended business travel. Nestle, the world’s largest food and beverage company, told employees to avoid traveling for business until at least mid- March.

“Investors should minimise their exposure to industrial commodities, luxury goods, and European airlines,” said Seema Shah, chief strategist at Principal Global Investors.

“We also favour quality stocks, especially large companies," the strategist said.

One bright spot was Starbucks, which said it was reopening cafes across China after the coronavirus outbreak forced widespread closures last month.

Additional reporting Reuters and Bloomberg

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