Morgan Stanley’s squad under the direction of Angela Moh in Hong Kong earned the No. 2 spot in last year’s broad Consumer category, which has been divided into separate Discretionary and Staples sectors. Moh and her group land in second place on the former roster and third on the latter lineup. The nine analysts “have very good knowledge on this sector in China as well as globally,” remarks one fund manager, “and we got a lot out of their reports comparing U.S. and China trends and differences.” China’s staples names should perform in-line with the overall market, they project, so the researchers recommend being selective on individual stocks. “The outperformers are those which have pricing power and thus the potential to improve margins amid the current lukewarm demand,” says Moh. Examples include two of the mainland’s food and beverages producers: Kweichow Moutai Co., which is known for its high-end baijiu distilled spirits; and Dali Foods Group Co., a baked goods company. “Kweichow Moutai is a strong brand, with a positive trend in premium liquor industry pricing under normalized channel inventory,” explains Moh. Its stock was trading at 247.40 yuan in late April, and the analysts believe that a price of 269 yuan is justified. “Dali has a diversified product portfolio in snack foods and beverages, with consistent new product contributions, strong positions in the tier 3-city and below markets and growth potential in tier 1 and 2 cities,” she notes. At HK$6.10, their price objective for the shares implies a potential 20.6 percent upside to its value late last month. The Morgan Stanley team members keep tabs on more than 100 companies from their offices in Hong Kong, Mumbai, Seoul, Singapore, Sydney and Taipei.