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Winners & Losers of Devalued Yuan

Chinese airlines and European luxury car makers are emerging as the early losers after the People’s Bank of China let the yuan fall the most in two decades.

China’s surprising move to cut its daily reference rate by 1.9 percent Tuesday rippled through global markets. Policy makers called the change a one-time adjustment and said its fixing will become more aligned with supply and demand.

While it is unclear if the yuan will keep dropping, investors are starting to assess the potential winners and losers.

Losers

* Chinese airlines:

Chinese carriers have most of their debt in dollars. A weaker yuan will increase their costs to pay it off and hurt their earnings.

China Southern Airlines Ltd. declined 18 percent in Hong Kong trading, the most since 2001. China Eastern Airlines Ltd. slumped 16 percent, the steepest drop in seven years.

Each 1 percent drop in the yuan erodes 767 million yuan ($121 million) from China Southern’s annual profit, according to the carrier’s 2014 financial report.

* European luxury-goods sellers:

As the European Union’s major trading partner, China and its growing middle class has been a boon for the region’s luxury-goods makers. A weaker yuan makes it more expensive for Chinese consumers to buy German cars, Swiss watches and French handbags.

Shares of BMW AG, which received about 19 percent of its revenue from China in 2014, sank 4 percent in Germany. China also accounted for about 10 percent of Daimler AG’s sales.

LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE slid 5.4 percent. Sales from Asian nations excluding Japan accounted for about 29 percent of the luxury-goods maker’s sales last year.

* Consumer-product makers with China as the biggest overseas market:

Apple Inc. slid 5.2 percent in the biggest decline since January 2014. China was Apple’s second-largest market for the iPhone in the first half of this year. The yuan’s devaluation may prompt the company to raise prices or contend with contracting margins and unit growth, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.

Swatch Group AG slumped 3.6 percent. The Swiss watch maker derived 37 percent of its 2014 revenue from the greater China region.

* Commodity producers:

The yuan’s decline increases the cost of imports, including commodities. Vale SA, the world’s biggest iron-ore producer, dropped 5.1 percent in Sao Paulo. China accounted for 37 percent of the Vale’s revenue in the second quarter.

China’s imports contributed to 35 percent of the Australian mining company BHP Billiton’s sales last year and accounted for 38 percent of the sales of Rio Tinto Plc.

* Asian Currencies:

All major Asian currencies fell on concern a weaker yuan will force other policy makers in the region to devalue their foreign-exchange rates as cheaper Chinese exports edge out competitors.

The Singapore dollar led the decline, falling 1.4 percent in the biggest selloff since 2011, while the South Korean won dropped the most since May 2013.

Winners

* Chinese exporters:

Local exporters in general benefit from a cheaper yuan. China Machinery Engineering Corp. rose as much as 5.9 percent in Hong Kong, while Lenovo Group Ltd. closed 2.9 percent higher. Each gets more than 65 percent of revenue from overseas.

China car exports have slowed in the past years as the weakening of the yen and won increased the pricing advantage of Japanese and South Korean competitors, according to Dong Yang, secretary-general of China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. Yin Tongyue, chairman of Chery Automobile Co., China’s biggest vehicle exporter, says he supports a weaker yuan as it is good for the company’s overseas sales.

Textile and clothing makers that sell to overseas markets are among companies that will benefit from the yuan’s depreciation, according to Delong Yang, an investment manager at China Southern Fund Management. Huafang Ltd., a Chinese textile manufacturer, surged 10 percent in Shanghai.

Li & Fung Ltd., a Hong Kong-based trading company which sells China-made goods from clothes and toys to U.S. and Europe, rose 5 percent in Hong Kong. Bloomberg