Whirlpool Sales Increase By 12% During 1st Qtr.

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With the U.S. economy expanding on the strength of consumer spending, major appliance maker Whirlpool posted a year-over-year improvement in first-quarter operating performance in its North American business.

Whirlpool North America net sales increased 12 percent from the prior year's first quarter as appliance industry shipments increased 6 percent. Restructuring-related cost savings and productivity gains helped the segment improve core operating profit by 20 percent.

Overall net sales climbed 2 percent, hitting $2.57 billion, compared with $2.52 billion in the year-ago period.

Overall, Whirlpool reported core earnings from continuing operations of $92 million, excluding charges, compared with $73 million in the first three months of 2001.

Thanks to a strong performance in sales of new washers, dryers and ovens as well as a surge in profitability in the North American region, overall company first-quarter net earnings more than doubled, reaching $84 million, up from $41 million year over year.

Whirlpool anticipates delivering a 10 percent improvement in second-quarter and full-year core earnings in 2002.

The company's global restructuring effort is expected to result in pretax charges of between $300 million and $350 million. When fully implemented, the effort is expected to yield annualized savings of between $225 million and $250 million.

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