BENTON HARBOR, MICH. — Whirlpool’s strong fourth quarter and annual financial reports are a clear illustration why independent retailers are leaning more on major appliances to generate sales and profits.
More independent retailers are following at least part of a successful strategy of Conn’s by leaning on their white-goods expertise to replace lost sales volume and profitability from electronics in the past year or so.
Last week in its financial report, Whirlpool North America’s performance illustrated solid growth. Fourthquarter sales were $2.7 billion, compared with $2.5 billion in the prior year, an increase of approximately 9 percent.
The region reported fourth-quarter operating profit of $301 million, approximately 11 percent of sales, compared with $233 million, approximately 9 percent of sales, in the prior year. Higher sales, ongoing cost productivity, and the benefit of cost and capacity-reduction initiatives more than offset higher material costs and investments in marketing, technology and products.
The company expects full-year 2014 U.S. industry unit shipments to increase in the range of 5 percent to 7 percent.
As for the entire company, Whirlpool reported fourthquarter GAAP net earnings of $181 million, compared with net earnings of $122 million for the same prior-year period.
Sales in the quarter were $5.1 billion, compared with $4.8 billion during the same prior-year period. Excluding the impact of both foreign currency and Brazilian (BEFIEX) tax credits, sales increased approximately 7 percent, led by strong growth in North America and Latin America.
“The strong execution of our plans resulted in a record year of earnings,” said Jeff Fettig, chairman and CEO of Whirlpool. “We continue to grow revenue, expand margins and increase our investment capacity, positioning us well as we enter 2014.”
Fourth-quarter GAAP operating profit totaled $354 million, compared with $258 million in the same prioryear period. Adjusted operating profit totaled $386 million, 7.7 percent of sales, compared with $309 million, 6.5 percent of sales, in the same prior-year period.
GAAP operating profit for the year totaled more than $1.2 billion, compared with $869 million in 2012. Fullyear adjusted operating profit totaled $1.4 billion, 7.3 percent of sales, compared with $1 billion, 5.7 percent of sales, in 2012.
GAAP full-year sales for 2013 were $18.8 billion, compared with $18.1 billion in 2012. Excluding the impact of both foreign currency and BEFIEX tax credits, sales increased more than 4 percent.
Adjusted net earnings in the full year were $827 million, compared with $401 million in the prior year.