Tupperware's (NYSE: TUP) earnings outlook for 2002 and 2003 is anything but airtight. The container maker warned late yesterday that income for 2002 will be 19% lower than last year. This morning, it said that 2003 isn't likely to be a party either, with sales up percentage-wise only in the low-single digits and profits up in the mid-single digits.

Tupperware expects earnings for 2002 to be $1.30 a share, excluding one-time charges and gains. For 2003, it predicts earnings will be between $1.50 and $1.60 a share.

In response to the warnings, its shares are melting more than 10% today, toying with a new 52-week low.

Weakness in Mexico, Venezuela, Korea, and the Philippines is creating this angst for Tupperware. Don't people in those countries like keeping their leftovers fresh and tasty? Why, of course, they do, but each country has distinct problems that are hurting Tupperware's sales.

In Mexico, consumer spending is slow and has been that way for most of the year. Venezuela's political unrest and the oil strike are the culprits there. South Korea instituted a new regulation requiring all Tupperware salespeople to be registered with tax authorities. This has affected the company's recruitment and employee retainment. And, in the Philippines, a decline in household income translated into a decline in spending.

Its operations in North America and Europe have shown strength and growth this year, but not enough to offset the difficulties elsewhere. Just goes to show you how challenging running a business in a global environment can be. Political and governmental policies and problems completely outside of the company's control have a direct impact. Until these key markets can overcome their various issues, overall results from the company will be pressured. Shareholders will just have to be patient.