Whirlpool loved Trump’s tariffs; Now it’s struggling

Posted at 9:11 AM, Jul 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-24 09:11:18-04

(CNN Money) — “Tariffs are the greatest!” President Donald Trump said on Twitter Tuesday morning. Whirlpool used to agree.

In January, when Trump announced tariffs on imported washing machines. CEO Marc Bitzer told analysts, “This is, without any doubt, a positive catalyst for Whirlpool.” The company’s stock jumped.

But the Trump administration didn’t stop there. It imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum, sending raw material prices skyrocketing. That raised costs for Whirlpool by $350 million and squeezed its profit margins.

Now Whirlpool is backtracking on its protectionist cheerleading.

The company on Monday slashed its profit outlook for 2018 due in part to a “challenging cost environment.” Whirlpool’s stock tanked 10% premarket Tuesday after it missed Wall Street’s expectations.

Whirlpool and rivals, such as LG and Samsung, have increased prices on washing machines since the tariffs went into effect. That led some people to pass up a new purchase. Prices for washing machines were up in June nearly 20% from a year prior, according to the Labor Department.

Whirlpool’s sales in the United States fell 2.2% last quarter from what it called “demand weakness.” In Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the company’s second biggest market, sales tumbled 12%.