Whirlpool doubles profit in fourth-quarter

Posted Feb. 2, 2010 at 7:01 a.m.

whirlpool.jpgAssociated Press
| Whirlpool Corp.’s cost-cutting and big sales gains in Asia and Latin America helped it more than double its fourth-quarter profit, the company said this morning. The world’s largest home appliance maker also said in its 2010 outlook it is starting to see signs of business improving in North America.

The sales increases are encouraging – particularly in North America – as it shows demand is rising for the company’s big-ticket items in the U.S. after more than a year of sales that were hammered by a weak housing market and tight credit.

Whirlpool, whose other brands include Maytag and Kitchenaid, earned $95 million, or $1.24 per share, for the period ended Dec. 31. Excluding a legal expense, profit was $1.64 per share, which beat the $1.32 per-share forecast of analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters. These estimates usually exclude one-time items.

Revenue rose 12.7 percent to $4.86 billion, topping Wall Street’s $4.44 billion. Removing foreign currency fluctuations, sales grew about 5 percent for the quarter.

In North America, sales climbed 4 percent to $2.6 billion, which was much better than the previous quarter when revenue was down 9 percent. U.S. industry unit shipments rose 6 percent, providing hope that customers are starting to make more purchases.

Latin America revenue surged 52 percent to $1.2 billion, while Asian sales increased 34 percent to $188 million.

Full-year earnings slipped 22 percent to $328 million, or $4.34 per share, compared with $418 million, or $5.50 per share, in the previous year. While the performance was lower than the prior year, it was still above Whirlpool’s guidance for a profit of about $4.25 per share.

Annual sales dropped 10 percent to $17.1 billion from $18.91 billion. Taking out foreign currency fluctuations, revenue fell about 6 percent.

For 2010, the Benton Harbor, Mich., company expects earnings of $6.50 to $7 per share, above estimates of $6.45 per share. Its U.S. sales could get a boost from a federal tax-rebate program for purchases of energy-efficient appliance, which has yet to begin in most states.


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