Chevron, Exxon Among U.S. Companies Vulnerable to Ukraine Unrest

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Large U.S. agriculture companies, energy infrastructure exporters and fast-food giants are among those that could suffer if the situation in Ukraine deteriorates further.

That's the assessment from fund managers and strategists, who point to a full scale Russian military occupation of Ukraine as the biggest risk to markets.

Global markets were a sea of red on Monday, with key European indices shedding more than 2% after Russia seized border posts and pushed to expand its forces in Ukraine's Crimea region.

Despite the alarm, UBS' head of global emerging markets equity strategy, Geoff Dennis, said the political turmoil in Egypt of early 2011 was far more significant for global markets.

"Egypt is owned by foreign investors and is an emerging market," he said in a phone interview. "There was potential for it to stir the Israel-Palestine conflict and it caused a spike in oil prices."

By comparison, Ukraine is a major agriculture producer but doesn't pose the same geopolitical risk to global markets. It is classified as a frontier market, which means it is less developed than so-called emerging markets with less input from offshore investors.

Dennis said the worst-case scenario for the region would involve military confrontation, in which Russia moved to restore ousted Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych or place another Soviet-backed leader in power.

A potential default by Ukraine on its debt could also see a ripple effect through the European banking system, the UBS strategist warned. Russian banks are seen as those most exposed to the region, while two large Austrian banks -- Raiffeisen International and Bank Austria -- are active in Ukraine. "If loans aren't repaid in the Ukraine, western banks there could be forced to liquidate investments elsewhere," Dennis said, suggesting overall exposure of western European banks was probably contained.

If you liked this article you might like

Total Reaches Agreement with Chevron for Gulf of Mexico Exploration

Stocks In Negative Territory as Chances for December Hike Surge

Energy Stocks Lead a Neutral Market Even After Oil Inventories Spike

Energy Takes a Backseat as Crude Oil Stabilizes Under $50

Energy M&A Weekly: More Midstream IPOs Expected in 2017