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Consumer Stocks Fall

Shaky results from consumer companies dragged the U.S. stock market lower on Tuesday as well-known names like appliance maker Whirlpool and athletic apparel maker Under Armour suffered their worst losses in years

This Jan. 4, 2010, file photo shows an historic marker on Wall Street in New York, Photo: AP/Mark Lennihan, F
1 year ago

NEW YORK  — Third-quarter earnings continued to dominate the market and some of the biggest companies either reported disappointing results or lowered their expectations. Investors wondered if consumers will spend less money on home improvement, clothing and other goods. But companies including Procter & Gamble and Lockheed Martin soared after their reports. Looking for safer options, some investors bought bonds and utility company shares.

Consumer spending is critical to the U.S. economy and poor results for consumer-focused companies could be a sign of trouble. But Doug Roman, managing director of equities for PNC Capital Advisors, said it’s too soon to know if shoppers are closing their wallets.

“The market might be extrapolating bigger stories into broader themes, which might not be the case,” he said. Corporate earnings have been falling for more than a year, and despite Tuesday’s results, investors are growing hopeful that streak is ending.

The Dow Jones industrial average shed 53.76 points, or 0.3 percent, to 18,169.27. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 8.17 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,143.16. The Nasdaq composite fell 26.43 points, or 0.5 percent, to 5,283.40.

Paint and coatings maker Sherwin-Williams posted a disappointing profit and cut its annual guidance because of slower sales growth combined with spending on new stores. Meanwhile appliance maker Whirlpool’s results fell far short of analyst projections. Sherwin-Williams had its worst day in seven years as it lost $30.27, or 10.9 percent, to $247.61. Whirlpool, which owns Maytag and KitchenAid, sank $18.37, or 10.8 percent, to $152.09, its largest loss in five years.

Home improvement retailers Home Depot and Lowe’s and flooring maker Mohawk Industries all slumped. So did automaker General Motors, which reported solid earnings.

Under Armour reported its slowest sales growth in six years and said its future sales won’t be as strong as it expected a year ago. Its stock tumbled $5.01, or 13.2 percent, to $32.89, its biggest drop in almost eight years. Rival Nike also slipped.

Procter & Gamble, which makes Tide detergent and Charmin toilet paper, had its best day in more than a year after it reported better results than investors expected. The consumer products giant has been selling some businesses to cut costs, and it posted stronger sales of personal care products like toothbrushes and deodorants. Its stock rose $2.87, or 3.4 percent, to $86.97,

Aerospace and defense company Lockheed Martin surpassed investor forecasts and raised its projections for the year. Its stock gained $17.10, or 7.4 percent, to $249.26, its biggest leap in seven years.

The reports continued to stream in after the market closed. Apple reported lower quarterly sales and sold fewer iPhones, sending its stock down about 2 percent in late trading. The company did give a better-than-expected forecast for the holiday season.


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