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Given the Un Port's natural affinity for out of favor sectors/industries, I've long looked at housing-related investments. And while I have a few on the short list, I'm still not convinced the dynamics of the supply/demand situation bode well for such investments.

But Whirlpool (NYSE: WHR) may buck this trend given its exposure to other, secular trends. The company will benefit from the emerging middle class in foreign markets -- getting a sales boost from general GDP growth as well as household penetration (as newly-minted middle class folk can finally afford a refrigerator or washing machine).

It also strikes me as a tangential play on rising food costs. This may be a stretch -- it is very tangential. But the intrinsic value of leftovers increases as food costs rise, and refrigerators (as well as Tupperware NYSE:TUP) play a role in keeping food fresh. I said it was a stretch.

I declared WHR shares not cheap enough at $92, but they've since fallen to $80. I'm going to tighten up my valuation work today and see what it tells me. The company's great brands are underappreciated, I think, but I'll still demand a reasonable margin of safety given the low margins inherent in the business.

Bryan
TMF42
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