Whirlpool Not Counting on Trump Resolving Trade Spat With China

Jan. 29, 2019
For its 2019 forecast, the appliance-maker is factoring in 25% US tariffs on Chinese goods.

Whirlpool Corp. isn’t banking on a trade war resolution any time soon, even with the Trump administration set to meet with Chinese officials this week.

In forecasting its 2019 performance on Tuesday, the appliance-maker said it’s factoring in U.S. tariffs on a list of Chinese goods that are scheduled to jump to 25% in March. That planned increase, along with higher prices for raw materials in general, will cost the company $300 million this year--similar to 2018 levels.

“Without going through all the details and the components, in total you should assume the net of all tariffs right now weigh about $10 million to $12 million every month on us,” Chief Executive Officer Marc Bitzer said on a call with analysts. “That’s just the reality.”

The Trump administration begins meetings on Wednesday with Chinese officials in Washington in the latest effort to hash out a deal. It’s the latest push to ease a dispute that began last year when the U.S. slapped tariffs on steel and aluminum. Since then, hostilities have increased with a series of tit-for-tat levies.

A reprieve came late last year when the White House agreed to delay a tariff increase from 10% to 25% on a list of Chinese goods until March to allow for more negotiations. If the increase doesn’t come to fruition, that could lift Whirlpool’s results, the company said.

“We just don’t have new information” about the tariff landscape, Bitzer said. “We took into account what is known and what has been communicated by the U.S. government.”

Whirlpool shares rose as much as 5.6% to $131.43 on Tuesday, reversing earlier losses.

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