Mounting fears over Japan's escalating nuclear crisis sparked a global market selloff. As most consumer goods stocks were in negative territory, appliance maker Whirlpool climbed steadily throughout the morning trading session.
John Canally, economist at LPL Financial, said that investors in the U.S. were using Japan as an excuse to book profits after the steep run up in stocks, helping to explain the wide scale market selloff. "At the end of this, no one is going to say this is what dipped the world back into a recession. No one expected much out of Japan before this," said Canally. "The problem is emerging markets. If this slows emerging market growth enough, that could be an issue."Among stocks losing ground Tuesday, Diageo (DEO), a London-based spirits, beer and wine distributor shed 3.6%. Elsewhere in sin stocks, Sam Adams maker Boston Beer (SAM) lost 2.9% and American depositary receipts of British American Tobacco (BTI) fell 2.8%. Investors bid Altria Group (MO) shares 1.6% lower. Consumer packaged goods maker Procter & Gamble (PG) saw its shares fall 1.5% amid investor uncertainty Tuesday. Processed food behemoth Sara Lee (SLE) lost 1.8%. Whirlpool shares had been in positive territory throughout the morning, but lost ground halfway through the session, hovering just below the unchanged mark, likely a result of profit-taking and investors' search for how to benefit from the Japan-induced selloff. Zacks Investment Research noted Tuesday morning that Whirlpool shares were potentially undervalued in terms of their low price-to-earnings ratio, especially compared with its household appliances peers. Zacks said Whirlpool had the lowest P/E, at 8.4 times, ahead of Helen of Troy (HELE), at 10.3 times, and Deer Consumer Products (DEER), at 12.1 times. The Stanley Works (SWK) came next with a P/E of 19 times, followed by iRobot (IRBT) at 34.2 times. -- Written by Miriam Marcus Reimer in New York.
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