Benton Harbor, Mich. - Battered by the global recession and weak demand for home appliances, Whirlpool reported a 48-percent drop in net earnings, to $87 million, and an 8-percent decline in net sales, to $4.5 billion, for the third quarter ended Sept. 30.
Excluding the impact of unfavorable currency fluctuations, sales declined 3 percent the company said.
In North America, sales slipped 9 percent to $2.5 billion while operating profit rose 89 percent to $140 million thanks to cost reductions and productivity initiatives. But those factors were partially offset by lower unit production volume, unfavorable foreign currency fluctuations and an increased mix of lower-priced products, the company said.
Total operating profit rose 8 percent, reflecting "our successful cost reduction efforts, the strength of our global operating platform, our commitment to product innovation and strong consumer brands," said chairman/CEO Jeff Fettig. "These factors, combined with our continued emphasis on marketplace execution, will remain key focal points as we manage through this challenging macroeconomic environment."
Fettig added that the company has successfully restructured its business to align its capacity and resources to lower demand levels, and that it continues to see "uncertain and volatile demand levels in many markets."
Based on the current economic outlook, Whirlpool expects full-year 2009 U.S. industry unit shipments to decline approximately 10 percent, compared with its previous projection of a 10 percent to 12 percent decline.
U.S. product launches during the third quarter included:
Â· The Whirlpool Gold free-standing, double-oven range, which uses half the energy and pre-heats in half the time of a conventional full-sized oven;
Â· The Maytag Performance series front-load washer, which features a fan to circulate air to help prevent odor;
Â· The Maytag Bravos high-efficiency top-load laundry pair, which can handle an 18-pound load with its 5 cubic feet of capacity, faster spin speeds and Maytag commercial technology;
Â· The Maytag ICE2O refrigerator with patented door seal to keep cold air in and warm air out;
Â· A Maytag gas range with an extra-capacity oven and 17,000 BTU burners, and;
Â· The addition of a new midnight blue color for the retro-look Amana top-mount refrigerator.