We've commented on the rise in steel prices numerous times over the past year. It's a trend that has benefited steel makers such as U.S. Steel
Maytag competitor Whirlpool
Some might fault the company for taking out its own bad luck on its workforce. But that wouldn't be quite fair. WSJ reports from earlier this year described how Maytag and other appliance makers have already tried other options to work around the temporary cyclical spike in steel prices. They've tried, for instance, using steel substitutes, manufacturing more machines from aluminum. But that didn't pan out. Aluminum prices have risen along with steel -- to the joy of investors in aluminum companies such as Alcan
About the only good news for investors in Maytag (not to mention its employees) is that steel is a cyclical industry. Prices that are up today historically will go down tomorrow. And sales that weren't made today will become pent-up demand to fuel tomorrow's sales, tomorrow's pay raises, and tomorrow's rehiring of sidelined employees. Small comfort for today to be sure, but these days you have to take what comfort you can get.
Can't quite get your fill of depressing news about Maytag? Try reading:
Fool contributor Rich Smith owns no shares in any company mentioned in this article.