Benton Harbor, Mich. — North American first-quarter revenue at Whirlpool increased 4.5 percent year-on-year, hitting $1.98 billion, even with the implementation of price increases ranging from 5 percent to 10 percent across product lines.
However, operating results in North America dropped 14 percent in the three months, ended March 31, to $182 million, due primarily to significantly higher material and oil-related costs. Price increases, productivity improvements and strong cost controls helped mitigate higher costs at Whirlpool, said the company.
In the first quarter, major appliances maker Whirlpool estimated a 2 percent decline in industry shipments, due primarily to fewer shipping days in the current period and trade inventory reductions. Based on current economic conditions, Whirlpool continues to expect full-year industry unit shipments to increase about 2 percent.
In the face of a challenging global cost environment, Whirlpool reported its first quarter operating margin performance improved vs. fourth-quarter levels, which the company said justifies the price increases and other actions to help it adjust to the global cost environment.
“These actions include implementing global price increases, driving record levels of controllable productivity, leveraging our global operating platform, reducing non-product related spending and accelerating our rate of innovation to the market,” said Jeff Fettig, chairman/CEO.
“The results of pricing actions over the first three months of this year, including product and brand mix, were in line with expectations,” said Fettig. The company said material and oil-related costs are expected to increase between $500 million to $550 million during the current year.
Consolidated net sales at Whirlpool climbed 6.7 percent in the first quarter, reaching $3.2 billion, up from $3 billion year-over-year.
However, consolidated operating profit dropped to $180 million, from $203 million, and net profit declined 14.9 percent to $86 million from a year-earlier $101 million. These declines were driven by significantly higher material and oil-related costs, said Whirlpool.
Whirlpool reported that the launch of the new Kenmore HE4t front-loading washer and dryer pair, featuring bold new colors, generated strong consumer interest during the first quarter.
The company introduced a new line of Whirlpool Gold built-in cooking products that feature European design and advanced technologies that help speed cooking.
Its KitchenAid brand introduced a new countertop oven with built-in oven features such as bake, broil, toast and warm functions.