Whirlpool shares soar after Trump's approves tariffs on foreign competitors

Key Points
  • Shares of U.S. consumer appliance maker Whirlpool and solar cell manufacturer First Solar rally after President Trump approves tariffs.
  • "Some of the proposals had featured tariffs as high as 35 percent … we see this announcement as a positive," wrote Cowen analyst Jeffrey Osborne.
  • Shares of home appliance manufacturer Whirlpool jumped 5 percent on Tuesday, while First Solar rose 4 percent.
Trump imposes tariffs on solar cells, washing machines
Trump imposes tariffs on solar cells, washing machines

Major U.S.-based energy and consumer appliance stocks jumped Tuesday after President Donald Trump's decision to slap tariffs on imported solar cells and washing machines.

Shares of U.S. home appliance manufacturer Whirlpool jumped 5 percent on Tuesday.

The Trump administration will impose a 20 percent tariff on the first 1.2 million imported large residential washing machines in the first year and a 50 percent tariff on machines above that number.

The solar protective fees would initially slap a 30 percent levy on all imported cells, falling to 15 percent by the fourth year, though 2.5 gigawatts of imported cells will be allowed tariff-free per year.

Credit Suisse analyst Susan Maklari told her clients that Trump's decision wasn't all that surprising.

"All those producing in the US will now face a similar cost structure, creating a more level playing field," wrote Maklari. "Based on filings by LG and Samsung, they have a combined roughly 33 percent share in the U.S. suggesting 3 million washers are brought in annually. That said, both have commenced construction of U.S.-based capacity, which is expected to come
on line over the next 12-18 months. As such, we expect this decision to become less impactful in time."

The tax is also seen as another jab at Asian trade rivals by the Trump administration in an attempt to further bolster American businesses. The tariffs will likely hamper Whirlpool's rivals like South Korea's Samsung, which expressed its disappointment with the decision Monday.

"Today's announcement is a great loss for American consumers and workers," the company said. "This tariff is a tax on every consumer who wants to buy a washing machine. Everyone will pay more, with fewer choices."

Solar cell maker First Solar has a domestic manufacturing center in Perrysburg, Ohio, potentially giving the company an advantage over firms with more overseas hubs. Further, its special thin-film panels it manufactures may be entirely exempt from the tariff.

Though up earlier in the day, the company slipped 2.5 percent Tuesday afternoon as concerns over rising costs weighed on the industry.

"First Solar, whose technology is exempt, could be a clear winner, but likely partially incorporates those expectations," analyst Carter Driscoll of B. Riley wrote to clients. "Exposed are those more heavily geared towards utility-scale solar, such as Canadian Solar."

Industry analysts had been on edge for months as tariff proposals flew around Washington. And while news of a tariff isn't likely to draw praise from any company with overseas production, the finalized plan is less burdensome than many had predicted.

"Trump's decision to enact a 30 percent tariff provides much needed clarity for the solar industry. Activity has been dramatically slowed by the uncertainty surrounding the case," Cowen analyst Jeffrey Osborne explained in a note Monday. "Given that some of the proposals had featured tariffs as high as 35 percent … we see this announcement as a positive for module importers given the quick scale to 15 percent over four years."