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Self-driving cars are 'significant growth opportunity' for alcoholic beverages, Morgan Stanley says

  • Morgan Stanley predicts shared and autonomous vehicles will add 80 basis points to annual alcoholic beverage sales growth for the next 10 years.
  • Self-driving car "technology could help address the mutual exclusivity of drinking and driving in a way that can significantly enhance the growth rate of the alcohol market and on-trade sales at restaurants," the firm's analyst says.
Constellation Brands' Corona Light is displayed for sale at a grocery store in New York.
Scott Eells | Bloomberg| Getty Images
Constellation Brands' Corona Light is displayed for sale at a grocery store in New York.

There are more ways to trade the autonomous driving trend than you might think, according to a top Wall Street firm.

Morgan Stanley shared its out-of-the-box ideas and analysis on the potential implications of self-driving cars to other consumer industries Thursday.

"Shared and autonomous vehicles could expand the total addressable market of alcoholic beverages while reducing the incidence of traffic fatalities and accidents," analyst Adam Jonas wrote in a report to clients entitled "Shared autonomous mobility: The solution to drinking and driving?"

Self-driving car "technology could help address the mutual exclusivity of drinking and driving in a way that can significantly enhance the growth rate of the alcohol market and on-trade sales at restaurants ... [It is a] significant growth opportunity for alcoholic beverage firms, particularly on-trade, premium and beer," he added.

The analyst cited how alcohol-related deaths accounted for 29 percent of U.S. traffic fatalities in 2015, which the CDC said cost the economy more than $44 billion. He estimates self-driving cars and autonomous vehicles can free up drinkers to consume one incremental alcoholic beverage per week on average, which will add 80 basis points of annual revenue growth to the industry's sales for the next 10 years. The current global market size for alcoholic beverages is $1.5 trillion, according to the firm.

Morgan Stanley also estimates there are 600 billion passenger hours currently spent in automobiles and 380 billion hours spent drinking alcohol.

There will be "more opportunities to drink before getting in the car. [And] more opportunities to drink while in the car," he wrote.

Jonas specifically cited Constellation Brands, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Diageo, Brown-Forman and Kweichow Moutai as the "best positioned" beverage stocks in Morgan Stanley's research coverage to trade the self-driving investment theme.

He added restaurant companies such as BJ's Restaurants, Buffalo Wild Wings and Brinker will benefit because alcohol represents 10 to 20 percent of their sales.

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