Stockholm, Sweden - Lower costs and an improved sales mix helped Electrolux rebound from a year-ago loss in the fourth quarter.
Earnings rose to $87 million from last year's $62 million loss, while net sales slipped 1.6 percent to $3.7 billion for the three months ending Dec. 31, 2009.
For the full year, profits soared more than 600 percent to $342 million and net sales rose 4.1 percent to $14.3 billion.
In North America, fourth-quarter operating income rose to $59 million following a year-ago loss of $5.6 million, despite rising raw materials costs during the period and charges related to the relocation of corporate operations to Charlotte, N.C., and laundry production to Juarez, Mexico, later this year.
Net sales fell 12 percent in the fourth quarter to $1 billion due to increased competition within the laundry category, the company said.
For the full year, North American operating income rocketed 565 percent to $193.4 million, and net sales rose 9 percent to $4.7 billion.
Despite a 14 percent decline in industry-wide unit shipments in the U.S., president/CEO Hans Straberg described 2009 as one of the best reporting periods ever for Electrolux thanks to lower raw materials costs, greater cost efficiencies, and a higher sales mix of advanced, premium-priced products that helped offset volume declines.
Straberg attributed the improved mix to last year's relaunch of the Frigidaire brand in the midprice segment, which followed "a very successful launch" of the Electrolux brand in the premium-price tier that helped grow market share in kitchen appliances.
Despite the upbeat report, Electrolux's share price fell following the earnings announcement due to lower-than-expected fourth-quarter results and the company's mixed outlook for 2010.