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Whirlpool Shows Strong U.S. Profit

Strong profit performances from its U.S., Asian and European appliance operations produced record first-quarter consolidated operating earnings for Whirlpool, but the company ended up with a sharply lower net after absorbing a major charge for Brazilian currency devaluation.

For the three months Whirlpool posted a net of $28 million, down from last year’s $88 million, while consolidated sales, at $2.49 billion, edged up 0.9%.

Earnings are after a $158 million Brazilian currency charge this year and a net profit last year of $12 million from discontinued operations. Absent those items, its net from continuing operations was up 29% to $88 million.

Whirlpool said that while its overall gain in unit shipments was 5% for the quarter, the benefit of that on sales was cut some $200 million by the devaluation of Brazil’s currency.

Its North American business posted a record operating profit on a 9% increase in unit shipments and increased its market share from the end of last year. Operating efficiencies and quality improvements contributed to earnings through lower costs and higher productivity.

Considering the quarter’s performance, the company said, it now expects total 1999 domestic industry shipments to be up in the 2%-3% range.

Internationally, its European business had record sales and operating profit, and its Asian operation had a significant revenue increase and turned in its second consecutive quarterly profit. Despite conditions in Brazil and lower sales and earnings, Whirlpool said its Latin American business remained in the black.