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Whirlpool Sales Up In North America

BENTON HARBOR, Mich.— Sales performance at Whirlpool increased 11 percent in its North American business during the fourth quarter, compared with the same three months in 2000, while core operating profits for the major appliance maker’s North American business in the fourth quarter improved 55 percent over last year’s period.

Whirlpool said strong brand demand in the fourth quarter led to higher three-month volume and higher average selling prices in its North American operation. The segment’s earnings also benefited from continued cost reductions and productivity gains in the fourth quarter.

North American business improvements helped Whirlpool overall during the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, with total business core earnings from operations reaching $109 million, excluding restructuring and other charges, compared with $67 million in the same quarter in 2000. Add in a $91 million restructuring charge and net earnings drop to $21 million in the fourth quarter.

Fourth-quarter overall net sales climbed 3 percent, hitting $2.65 billion, up from $2.58 billion in the year-ago three months.

Chairman/CEO David Whitwam said, “Whirlpool North America, which is our largest business unit, delivered exceptional full-year performance and achieved record market share and operating results within a weak industry environment.”

Full-year sales at Whirlpool overall reached $10.3 billion, about flat with sales in the 12 months of 2000. Overall core earnings for the full-year were $371 million, excluding restructuring and other charges, compared with $367 million for 2000. Factor in some $337 in charges and the year’s net earnings drop to $21 million.