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Whirlpool Q4 Profits Up 20%


fourth-quarter earnings rose 19.9
percent to $205 million on improvements
in its North American

Net sales for the
three months, ended
Dec. 31, slipped 2
percent to $4.9 billion.

Whirlpool said
price hikes, enhanced
productivity and increased
sales of pricier
products led to
improved profitability
in North America. But
those gains were trimmed by weak global
demand, higher raw-materials costs, unfavorable
currency fluctuations, significantly
higher restructuring expense, and reduced
production to work down inventory.

In North America, sales rose 1 percent
to $2.6 billion despite a 3 percent decline
in unit shipments, reflecting improved
product mix and a recent round of price
increases. This, plus employee benefit reductions
and $96 million recouped from
a supplier over quality issues, more than
offset lower unit volume, higher material
costs and the impact from production
slowdowns. As a result, operating profit
rose 281 percent, to $202 million.

Fourth-quarter product launches included
the Whirlpool Cabrio Platinum
laundry pair, a CEE Tier 3-rated top-load
washer and high-efficiency dryer that use
up to 75 percent less water and up to 79
percent less energy than a conventional
top-load washer and dryer pair; a KitchenAid-
branded 13-cup food processor;
and ready-to-assemble cabinets under
the Gladiator GarageWorks brand.

“We exit 2011 with improving product
price/mix, significantly lower inventory
levels and strong new product innovation,”
Whirlpool chairman/CEO Jeff Fettig
said in a statement. “As we enter 2012,
we are executing strong actions to continue
to improve operating margins through
our cost and capacity reduction initiatives,
ongoing productivity programs and
previously announced price increases …
These initiatives are the key drivers to improving
our operating margins throughout

For the full year, net sales rose 2 percent
to $18.7 billion and net income fell
60 percent to $408 million.

Looking ahead, Fettig said Whirlpool
is projecting relatively flat to slightly improving
industry demand during the year
– including forecasts of flat to 3 percent
industry growth in North America – and
has “planned our business accordingly.”