Benton Harbor, Mich.
– Whirlpool said cost reductions, improved productivity and increased sales
volume fueled triple-digit earnings growth during the first quarter, suggesting
a rebound for the long-depressed major appliance market.
The world’s largest majap maker also
raised its projections for U.S.
industry shipments this year to between 3 percent and 5 percent, compared with
its earlier outlook of 2 percent to 4 percent growth.
Whirlpool’s net earnings rose 141
percent to $164 million, and net sales increased 20 percent to $4.3 billion for
the three months, ended March 31. Excluding the favorable impact of foreign
currency fluctuations, sales grew 11 percent.
Sales in North America increased 7
percent year over year to $2.3 billion, and regional shipments rose 11 percent,
outpacing the U.S.
industry average of 6 percent. Operating profit increased 40 percent to $140
million excluding one-time charges, despite a greater mix of lower-priced
“We are pleased with the strong
operational performance we reported in all of our regions,” said chairman/CEO
Jeff Fettig. “Our results reflect our lower breakeven point, continued
innovation investment and our expanding global product offerings. By continuing
to drive productivity improvements and leveraging our lower breakeven point, we
are able to expand our operating margins and accelerate profitable growth.”
Whirlpool launched the following
products during the quarter:
brand Vantage laundry pair,
offering an LCD touchscreen interface and the industry’s first USB port;
Whirlpool-brand side-by-side refrigerator with frameless “micro-etch” spill control
shelves, which provide wall-to-wall storage and 25 percent more usable shelf
a new Whirlpool-brand
Cabrio high-efficiency top-load washer that uses less water but is gentler on
tall-tub dishwasher that holds up to 12 place settings; and
refrigerator featuring contoured doors, chrome details, a full-color LCD display
and a USB port.