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Russian Vodka Boycott: 4 Spirit Companies In The Clear

Stocks in this article: BFB DEO STZ

James Dennin, Kapitall: Owners of gay bars across America and Canada are fighting back against Russian President Vladimir Putin's "gay propaganda" reforms in perhaps the only way they can – pouring out their Stoli.

[Analyze These Ideas:  Compare analyst ratings for the companies mentioned.]

The boycott was encouraged by columnist and blogger Dan Savage, who called for an action of "solidarity" with Russia's LGBT's communities, which have been suffering under increasingly restrictive laws that ban advocating for gay causes, or even sharing pro-gay sentiments in public.

Many critics and scholars have pointed out that Putin's actions have a populist bent, as growing dissent in the cities has led him to rely more and more on conservative, rural voters to hold on to his increasingly trepidatious strangle-hold of Russian politics.

Savage's pronouncement has been simple: "DUMP RUSSIAN VODKA."

There are no Russian liquor companies which trade publicly in the US or otherwise. And as the vodka-maker has pointed out, Stoli is owned by a Luxemborg beverage company, the SPI Group. However the company's owner – Yuri Scheffler, and the company's distinct brand both benefit from Russian branding and have manufacturers there.

Now, we at the Wire are primarily whiskey drinkers – but were still curious as to whether this grass-roots movement would have any effect on distillers in general. With that in mind we searched for stocks in the beverages industry that produce spirits but don't have any operations in Russia, in case late-summer revelers start actively buying non-Russian labels. Even if the beverage industry fails to respond to the boycott, a broader movement could still catch on in time to affect the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. 

And a note to readers: Smirnoff brand is owned by Diageo (DEO) – a British-based company – and is produced primarily in India, Ireland, the UK and the US.

The List

Click on the image below to see returns over time. One year returns sourced from Zacks Investment Research. 

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Will these protests affect the world's beverage market? Use the charts below to begin your own analysis.

1. Diageo PLC ( DEO): Engages in producing, distilling, brewing, bottling, packaging, distributing, developing, and marketing spirits, beer, and wine products. Market cap at $76.72B, most recent closing price at $122.70. Major brands include Smirnoff Vodka, Guiness, Captain Morgan.


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