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CEOs See Bottom To Majap Malaise

4/23/2009 03:15:00 PM Eastern

Fairfield, Conn. — The CEOs of GE and Electrolux believe the major appliance industry has finally hit bottom and could begin to reverse nearly three years of dramatic declines.

Jeff Immelt, chairman and CEO of GE, and Electrolux CEO Hans Straberg offered their takes on improving market conditions while reporting their companies’ first-quarter earnings this month.

In a conference call, Immelt noted, “Appliance run rates have gotten sequentially better, which would indicate either our [retail] customers are building inventory or there’s better demand from our consumers.”

GE vice chairman and chief financial officer Keith Sherin added, “We’re 16 months into this cycle in terms of home building, and the inventory rebalance levels have been pretty robust already at the retailers, so now we’re kind of seeing flow-through with our order rates.”

In a statement accompanying the release of Electrolux’s first-quarter results, Straberg observed, “In North America, we’ve experienced 11 consecutive quarters of weakening demand. Even if the decrease is expected to continue in the coming quarters, we see some early signs that we are beginning to reach the bottom … The challenge for us right now is to strike the right balance between the brakes and the gas pedal in order to stand strong when demand turns around.”

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