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Whirlpool Sales Rise 10.7%

Benton Harbor, Mich. — A strong sales and shipment performance in North America helped drive up first quarter sales at Whirlpool by 10.7 percent to $3 billion, compared with the $2.7 billion posted in the same period last year.

Excluding currency translations, namely a weak dollar, net sales increased about 5 percent.

Overall company earnings rose to $101 million from $91 million during the period, ended March 31, compared with results from a year ago.

Whirlpool sales in North America climbed 5.4 percent, reaching $1.9 billion. Industry demand was strong in the United States, said the company, helping the major appliance maker to achieve sales, unit shipment, operating profit and cash flow records for the three-month period.

Operating profit in the United States in the first quarter increased 17.7 percent, driven in part by effective brand and product mix management, as well as productivity gains, the company said. The improvement also was reflected in double-digit revenue increases in Whirlpool-brand and KitchenAid-brand products, as well as Whirlpool’s home-builder business.

U.S. industry shipments of majaps rose 7.6 percent in the first quarter, compared with the prior-year period, said Whirlpool. Projecting out to the full year, the company expects U.S. industry shipments to rise 4 percent from the level of 2003.

U.S. industry demand should be moderately better than our previous forecast,” said David Whitwam, chairman/CEO.

“Our operations will continue the rapid rate of new innovation introductions to customers worldwide as we continue to fully leverage our global operating platform.

“We also expect to drive improved results through effective brand and product mix management and increasingly higher levels of productivity,” he said.

Whirlpool reported that average sales values of its branded products again increased during the first quarter, due to consumer demand for the company’s higher margin innovations.