UPDATE 2-Cost cuts help Whirlpool counter weak sales

Wed Apr 24, 2013 7:48am EDT

* Quarterly profit per share tops analyst estimates

* Sales fall, miss expectations

* Maintains full-year profit, shipment outlook

By Dhanya Skariachan

April 24 (Reuters) - Whirlpool Corp reported higher-than-expected quarterly profit and stood by its earnings outlook for 2013 on Wednesday as price increases and cost cuts helped the world's largest appliance maker counter lackluster global demand.

Like many U.S. companies, Whirlpool, the maker of Maytag and KitchenAid appliances has kept a lid on costs to offset weak demand, especially in Europe, which is reeling from an economic crisis.

Sales in the first quarter fell 2.3 percent to $4.25 billion, missing the analysts' average estimate of $4.39 billion. Sales were essentially flat in North America, its largest market, and fell in Asia and Europe, Middle East and Africa.

The company maintained its shipment outlook for all markets. It expects 2013 industry unit shipments to stay flat in Europe, Middle East and Africa. In the United States, shipments are expected to rise 2 percent to 3 percent, and in Latin America and Asia, gain 3 percent to 5 percent.

Whirlpool has shut some manufacturing facilities in North America, moved production to lower-cost countries such as Mexico and used common parts across its lineup of dishwashers, refrigerators and washing machines.

In the first quarter, net income rose to $252 million, or $3.12 a share, from $92 million, or $1.17 a share, a year earlier. Excluding special items, it earned $1.97 a share, beating the analysts' average estimate of $1.93, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Whirlpool forecast full-year earnings of $9.25 to $9.75 a share, excluding restructuring charges, Brazilian tax credits and U.S. energy tax credits. Analysts expected $9.64.

Swedish rival Electrolux is due to report quarterly results on Thursday.

Whirlpool shares, up about 84 percent in the past year, were unchanged on Wednesday morning.

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