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Amazon's latest assault wipes $12.5 billion off Home Depot, other appliance-seller stocks

Shares of Home Depot and Lowe's were slammed Thursday, along with Whirlpool, after Amazon threatened to take on the appliance market in a much bigger way in a deal with Sears Holdings.

The market cap loss in Home Depot, Lowe's, Whirlpool and Best Buy was about $12.5 billion by the end of the day, after falling to more than $13 billion. Amazon stock was up slightly, and Sears closed up about 10 percent.

But the early read from some analysts was that the sell-off has created a buying opportunity for home improvement retailers Home Depot and Lowe's, which have proven themselves to be somewhat "Amazon-proof" and among the best performers in the sector. Best Buy, already battling Amazon in electronics, ended the day about 4 percent lower.

Sears, which has been losing share in appliance for years, saw its stock rally as much as 25 percent early Thursday, soon after it announced it would sell its Kenmore-branded appliances on Amazon.com. The products will be compatible with Amazon's Alexa platform.

"The net takeout is it's a potential negative for pricing and profitability for white box appliances," said Bob Wetenhall at RBC. "I don't think Alexa is the big deal here. … It's more the fact that Amazon is going to sell Kenmore-branded appliances."

"It's probably less of a Whirlpool issue," said Wetenhall, adding the price pressures would hit retailers. He said Whirlpool is the source for about half the appliances in the Kenmore brand, at one time a household standard and now a laggard. Wetenhall said it's too early to know how the deal will affect the integration of appliances and online retailers, and there were few details offered.

"It's hard to know," said Wetenhall. "Does the guy come out to your house to install it? It's a totally different thing."

Analysts at Robert W. Baird said the selloff in Home Depot and Lowe's was an overreaction. The nearly $7.5 billion market cap loss in Home...


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