NEW YORK —
Whirlpool and Electrolux both reported higher profits for the quarter, ended Dec. 31, 2010, but the suppliers said that the U.S. market continues to be a challenge.
Whirlpool reported higher net sales and net earnings for the fourth quarter and full year.
Net sales for the fourth quarter were $5.04 billion, up from the prior year’s $4.86 billion. Net earnings for the year were $171 million, up dramatically from the prior year’s $95 million.
For the calendar year, net sales and earnings gains were also impressive given the economy and competitive pressures. Net sales were $18.36 billion, up from the prior year’s $17.09 billion. Net earnings were $619 million, almost doubling the prior year’s $328 million.
However, for Whirlpool North America, fourthquarter results were not as robust. Sales of $2.6 billion decreased 1 percent from the prior year. North America unit shipments increased approximately 5 percent. U.S. industry unit shipments of major appliances increased 4 percent during the fourth quarter.
The North America region reported operating profit of $53 million compared with $136 million in the previous year. Fourth-quarter adjusted operating profit totaled $43 million compared with $145 million.
Results in the region were unfavorably impacted by lower product price/mix, higher material costs and lower production volume. These factors were partially offset by cost reduction and productivity initiatives and lower incentive compensation.
Jeff M. Fettig, chairman and CEO, commented, “As we enter 2011, we remain focused on delivering higher margin innovations, realizing significant cost productivity, and achieving profitable growth driven by some recovery in demand in the developed economies and by continued strong growth in many emerging markets. In 2011, we expect to expand our operating margins despite significant global inflation and generate good levels of free cash flow and further strengthen our financial position.”
Electrolux reported slightly higher profits for the fourth quarter on slightly lower sales.
For the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2010, Electrolux reported net sales of 27.6 billion Swedish kronors, down 2 percent from the same time last year.
Income was 677 million Swedish kronors, up 2 percent from the final quarter of the prior year.
Strong sales growth in Asia/Pacific and Latin America offset lower sales volume in Europe and North America.
During the fourth quarter, demand for core appliances was up 2 percent in North America. For the entire year demand increased 5 percent after “a very low level after more than three years of decline,” the company said. Growth was due in part to the major appliance rebate program instituted in the U.S. during 2010.