Donald Trump’s Mexico Tax Talk Hits Chipotle and Corona Beer Stocks
The 20% import tax Donald Trump has proposed on goods shipped from Mexico to the U.S. has already taken its toll on the stocks of burrito chains and Mexican beer brewers, including the maker of Corona.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle flew into a panic over the proposal, designed to pay for a wall at the Mexican border. The angst has continued even though the White House has subsequently walked back its commitment to that specific approach. Critics noted that Americans would be the ones paying the tax in the form of higher prices on Mexican cerveza brands and guacamole, with some dubbing the import tariff an “avocado tax.” “Simply put, any policy proposal which drives up costs of Corona, tequila, or margaritas is a big-time bad idea,” Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) wrote on Twitter Thursday. “Mucho Sad.”
Corona is the top imported beer in the U.S.; it has been made by Constellation Brands (STZ) since 2013, when the alcoholic beverage giant bought Mexican brewery Grupo Modelo’s U.S. business from Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD). (AB InBev still imports Corona and Modelo beers in other countries besides the U.S.) Constellation Brands stock tumbled for the second day in a row Friday, and is down more than 3% since Trump’s border tax announcement.
Shares of Heineken (HEINY), which makes Mexican beers Dos Equis and Tecate, also fell slightly.
Meanwhile, the price of Mexican Hass Avocados in dollars soared 5% Friday, and is up more than 23% this week since Trump took office. That was bad news for Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) stock, whose stock fell as much as 1.5% Friday.
Chipotle, which serves guacamole in its more than 2,200 burrito restaurants across the U.S., is especially sensitive to cost increases from the potential Mexican border tax: It sources its avocados “exclusively from Mexico” in certain months of the year depending on the growing season, Chipotle said in a press release Tuesday.
And Chipotle needs a whole lot of those avocados to make guacamole. Each of its restaurants consumes 45,000 pounds of avocados per year, according to the company, or 3,750 pounds of avocados per month. Multiply that by Chipotle’s total number of stores, and that means the company uses as much as 8.3 million pounds of avocados imported from Mexico every month.
Even if Mexico is only the exclusive supplier of Chipotle’s avocados for two months of the year, that adds up to nearly 20 million imported avocados annually — and likely much more, considering other months when Mexico is a major but not exclusive source of the ingredient. Already, the commodity’s rising price has cut into Chipotle’s profits, with the company noting in a filing this month that its avocado costs were higher than it expected.
Other Mexican restaurant stocks including Fiesta Restaurant Group (FRGI) and El Pollo Loco (LOCO) are down almost 2% since Trump proposed the import tax.
Meanwhile, tequila maker Jose Cuervo, which is based in Mexico, is reportedly planning to go public Feb. 8, according to an investor presentation. But the company already postponed its IPO twice last year after Trump’s election cast uncertainty on Mexico’s trade relations with the U.S., and it’s unclear whether Jose Cuervo will choose to enter the public markets amid the threat of the border tax.