STOCKHOLM Electrolux (ELUXb.ST) expects its European market to rack up a year of growing demand for the first time in three years in 2014, the company said on Friday after posting a bigger than expected fall in quarterly earnings.
The Swedish home appliances maker, second only to market leader Whirlpool (WHR.N) in size, also stuck by a forecast for demand in North America to grow 4 percent in the coming quarters, while it suffers a slump in a Brazilian market hit by recent currency turmoil.
Electrolux, which also sells under brands such as AEG, Frigidaire and Zanussi, has cut costs and shifted production to emerging markets in recent years in the face of lackluster European demand and fierce price competition in Asia.
In the face of fierce currency headwinds, fourth-quarter operating earnings excluding one-off charges fell to 1.22 billion crowns ($187 million) from 1.59 billion crowns last year, short of a consensus forecast of 1.33 billion crowns in a Reuters poll of analysts.
The outcome was also boosted by a 133 million crown accounting gain in its North American business, which had not been included in analysts' forecasts.
While European demand may now look set to move out of the doldrums, sales in the United States are gathering pace, with shipments there of the main categories of white goods rising nearly 10 percent last year across the industry.
"We foresee lower demand in Brazil over the next few quarters, although our fundamental view of the market is unchanged and we expect demand to pick up again," ," Chief Executive Keith McLoughlin said. ($1 = 6.5221 Swedish crowns)
(Reporting by Niklas Pollard and Johannes Hellstrom; Editing by David Goodman)