Global stock markets have crashed on mounting fears over the economic impact of the rapid spread of the coronavirus across the globe – but some share prices have plunged further than others.

The FTSE 100 has crashed 33.5% since 1 January 2020, with the more UK-focused FTSE 250 down 39.6% over the same period. Against these wider benchmarks, patterns of bigger losers and those less affected have begun to emerge.

The Grocer has picked out 50 UK-listed grocery and consumer stocks to see how shares in different companies, sectors and sub-sectors have reacted to the mounting global pandemic (scroll down for the full list).

  • The supermarkets are showing the resilience of food retail. The share prices of the three major listed UK supermarkets were early victims of the market-wide sell-off in late February, on concerns about supply chains and slower consumer spending. However, as the situation escalated the grocers have proved to be something of a safe haven compared with the wider FTSE 100 – and certainly the wider retailer sector.

    All three have benefited from the shift to online retail, consumer stockpiling driving increased demand and the reliability of consumer demand for food and everyday essentials. As Bernstein analyst Bruno Monteyne argues: “People will keep eating… Yes it will be chaotic, but the industry will reduce complexity to keep the country fed.”

    Sainsbury’s is the weakest performing of the three, down 16.5% since the start of the year, with Tesco down 11.5% and Morrisons down 9.7%. Notably, sentiment around the shares appears to be improving rather than deteriorating over the past two weeks and the share prices of Sainsbury’s and Morrisons have surged by double digits just today on the potential savings from the UK business rates holiday.

    One exception to the more positive trend is convenience chain – and Morrisons partner – McColl’s, which has seen a marked share price downturn. McColl’s has had a troubled trading period since the collapse of wholesaler Palmer & Harvey and the share price plunge likely reflects concerns over the underlying health of the business, rather than worries about the wider convenience sector.
  • Online retailers are finding favour compared with their physical counterparts. The best-performing stock in the list is Ocado – which has seen a surge of demand, causing the introduction of a customer queuing system in recent days. However, Ocado’s surging share price is less driven by UK sales than it is by its global expansion – and the City believes the coronavirus crisis will hasten adoption of online grocery shopping across the globe, particularly in markets such as the US, where it lags significantly behind the UK.

    But the list also shows that those with online retail models are seeing support for their shares. Naked Wines, which sold off its Majestic store network, and online food delivery services, Just Eat and Domino’s Pizza Group have all benefited from the shift to at-home consumption and online delivery.
  • UK supermarket suppliers are having a tougher time. As consumer food consumption switches away from out-of-home eating, the shares of food suppliers to the supermarkets might be expected to enjoy similar support. But instead UK-focused suppliers to the grocery industry have been among the worst hit.

    Bakkavor and Greencore are major suppliers of own label ready meals, which might be expected to receive a sales boost as people self-isolate. However, the pair are also key suppliers of sandwiches and other convenience products to the supermarkets and the shift to at-home working could have a heavy impact on sales focused around lunchtimes and fresh prepared food-to-go products more generally.

    Additionally, fresh food production is a labour-intensive process, making them more susceptible to workforce disruption from the spread of the illness – adding to labour shortages they already face as a result of forthcoming limits to EU migration. Fresh food producers are also more affected by possible supply chain disruption as a result of travel restrictions and disruption to usual practices in mainland Europe.

    Premier Foods is a more ambient-focused supplier – but still its shares have been badly affected in recent weeks, with potential concerns about consumers prioritising staples over its more occasion-based portfolio – such as Mr Kipling ‘sweet treats’ – adding to existing concerns over its debt pile and need for restructuring.

  • The bigger and more global the supplier, the more insulated they seem to be – with some exceptions. FTSE 100 consumer giants Unilever and Reckitt Benckiser are among the better-performing stocks. This largely reflects their product mix – household goods and ambient food for Unilever and consumer health for RB.

    Both have notable business interests in China – particularly Reckitt, which was forced to take a write-down in its China baby milk business. But their geographical breadth gives them protection, away from the coronavirus hotbeds of western Europe.

    Away from the UK, the shares of Nestlé (–10.5%), Mondelez (–11.4%), PepsiCo (–6.6%), Kellogg’s (+0.7%) and Kimberly-Clark (–2.1%) also show wider support for global fmcg suppliers.

    The exceptions appear to be those with a reliance on fresh products, such as Danone (–21.4%), those who sell into the leisure industry such as AB InBev (–53.3%), Heineken (–21.5%), Pernod Ricard (–24.3%) and Remy Cointreau (–22.6%) and those whose business was already under pressure such as Kraft Heinz (–25.8%).

  • Those with exposure to leisure and travel have been hammered. The worst-performing UK stock in this grocer list is brewer and pubco Marston’s – and fellow pub/leisure groups Restaurant Group, Mitchells & Butlers and JD Wetherspoon have also lost well over half their market caps in the past 30 days.

    As mentioned above on a global scale, suppliers into the pub and leisure sector have also been severely hit. Fever-Tree, C&C Group and European Coke distributor Coca-Cola HBC (including in Italy) have all been severely hit.

    Those exposed particularly to the travel sector are also counting the cost of the virus – with global spirits producers joining travel retail specialists SSP Group and WH Smith among those badly wounded by the global collapse in air travel numbers.

50 UK-listed grocery and consumer stocks 

CompanyPrice (GBp unless specified)% Change since 1 Jan
MARSTON’S  (MARS)   31.7 -82.6%
SSP GROUP  (SSPG)   152.6 -67.5%
WH SMITH  (SMWH)   757.3 -65.2%
GREENCORE GROUP  (GNC)   104.4 -62.7%
MARKS & SPENCER GROUP  (MKS)   103.0 -56.8%
FEVERTREE DRINKS  (FEVR)   931.2 -54.9%
BAKKAVOR GROUP  (BAKK)   70.4 -53.9%
C&C GROUP  (CCR)   167.3 -51.8%
PREMIER FOODS  (PFD)   19.6 -46.9%
PAYPOINT  (PAY)   498.5 -46.6%
COMPASS GROUP  (CPG)   1053.3 -44.6%
COCA-COLA HBC AG (CCH)   1552.3 -41.8%
APPLEGREEN  (APGN)   267.5 -41.3%
GREGGS  (GRG)   1382.5 -40.7%
FINSBURY FOOD GROUP  (FIF)   55.5 -39.9%
REAL GOOD FOOD  (RGD)   2.5 -39.1%
STOCK SPIRITS GROUP  (STCK)   135.3 -35.8%
TOTAL PRODUCE  (TOT)   71.5 -33.3%
B&M EUROPEAN VALUE RETAIL.. (BME)   279.0 -32.6%
MCBRIDE  (MCB)   60.7 -32.2%
NICHOLS  (NICL)   950.0 -30.6%
IMPERIAL BRANDS  (IMB)   1373.3 -30.0%
BRITVIC  (BVIC)   565.5 -28.4%
DIAGEO  (DGE)   2228.0 -26.9%
SCIENCE IN SPORT  (SIS)   33.1 -26.1%
WYNNSTAY GROUP  (WYN)   210.0 -25.6%
DEVRO  (DVO)   130.4 -24.9%
HILTON FOOD GROUP  (HFG)   834.5 -24.7%
DS SMITH  (SMDS)   284.6 -23.2%
TATE & LYLE (TATE)   567.9 -22.2%
A.G. BARR  (BAG)   432.8 -20.7%
PZ CUSSONS  (PZC)   171.8 -17.0%
J SAINSBURY  (SBRY)   214.8 -16.5%
DOMINO’S PIZZA GROUP  (DOM)   282.9 -13.4%
TESCO  (TSCO)   233.1 -11.5%
KERRY GROUP (KYGA) 97.8 -9.7%
GLANBIA  (GLB 8.6 -9.4%
CRANSWICK  (CWK)   3217.0 -6.1%
UNILEVER  (ULVR)   4293.8 -5.9%
NAKED WINES  (WINE)   212.5 -5.8%
JUST EAT TAKEAWAY.COM N.V.. (JET)   6537.5 0.0%
OCADO GROUP  (OCDO)   1466.8 6.4%