Whirlpool Q1 Sales Up; Mixed Bag For Electrolux

By Jeff Malester On May 5 2003 - 6:00am

Major appliance maker Whirlpool said its 5 percent North American sales increase, to $1.8 billion in the first three months, was a record, compared with sales in the first quarter of 2002, also a record. Excluding Whirlpool Mexico, sales were up slightly.

Although European major appliances maker Electrolux reported first quarter North American sales in its consumer durables segment, which includes majaps, dropped 12 percent, U.S. industry shipments of core appliances were largely unchanged, compared with a strong first quarter in 2002.

Benton Harbor, Mich.-based Whirlpool claimed an overall solid financial performance for the first quarter, despite what the company called uncertainty in global markets and generally weak industry demand.

Operating profit in Whirlpool's North American region declined 12 percent, due primarily to year-over-year increases in pension and employee-related healthcare costs. Savings from productivity improvements and restructuring partially offset the decline.

Whirlpool reported a 6 percent consolidated first quarter increase in net sales, to $2.72 billion, up from $2.57 billion in the year-ago period.

Whirlpool moved into the black in the first three months, ended March 31, reporting consolidated net earnings of $91 million, compared with a net loss of $529 million in the same quarter in 2002. The first quarter loss last year included one-time charges totaling $613 million, relating to a change in accounting principle and restructuring activities.

The Stockholm, Sweden-based Electrolux consumer durables operation recorded sales of $1.4 billion in the first quarter of 2003, down from $1.6 billion in the year-ago period.

Shipments of major appliances to the United States, including room air conditioners and microwave ovens, climbed by about 6 percent in the first quarter. Group sales of core appliances in North America showed good growth in local currency, said Electrolux, mainly refrigerators and cooking products. Operating income and margin also improved.

Operating income for the Electrolux consumer durables segment decreased to $94.9 million in the first quarter, down from $104.2 million in the same three months in 2002.

Consolidated Electrolux sales in the first quarter dropped 4.5 percent, to $3.8 billion, compared with $4 billion in the same three months a year earlier. Net income for the first three months of 2003 dropped by over half, down to $148.2 million, from $352.4 million in the same quarter the previous year.

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