Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Whirlpool profit hits happy note

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whirlpool1Check out the blowout earnings by Whirlpool.

The maker of Maytag and KitchenAid appliances posted a quarterly profit that left analysts’ expectations in the dirt. Try $2.51 a share compared with Wall Street’s estimate for $1.33. People, when a company tops expectations to the tune of $1.18, that’s crazy.

The strong results, not surprisingly, prompted the world’s largest appliance maker to raise its full-year outlook as well as its forecast for 2010 U.S. industry shipments.

The company had been hurt by the sluggish economy and weak housing market in North America — its largest market — but increasing demand for energy-efficient products and a federal stimulus program are luring shoppers back.

Not to be outdone, cigarette maker Lorillard posted a stronger-than-expected profit, helped by higher volumes and market share gains as U.S. smokers chose less expensive brands.

Jobless? Yes. Smokeless?

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GERMANY/This year is shaping up to be a tough one for the U.S. cigarette industry.

 The government is expected to enact a large increase to the federal tax on cigarettes in order to fund an expansion of a children’s healthcare program.  Many analysts expect some states to also raise cigarette taxes to fill their shrinking coffers. 
 
Plus, the shrinking economy will be a test of just how “recession proof” the cigarette business is. 
 
“If you are losing your job, one thing you are going to think about cutting back on your spending is smoking,” a Morningstar tobacco analyst said. 
 
But is losing your job really enough to make you give up smoking?

Or does the added stress just want you to smoke more? 
 
ShopTalk wants to know:

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