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Whirlpool profits soar on cost-cutting moves

Keywords: Tags  Whirlpool, earnings report, Jeff Fettig, appliances, capacity reduction, product price and mix, housing market

CHICAGO — Whirlpool Corp.’s net income soared to $252 million in the first quarter from $92 million in the same period last year despite a 2.3-percent dip in sales to just under $4.25 billion.

The improvement was driven by a continued favorable product price and mix as well as cost- and capacity-reduction initiatives, the Benton Harbor, Mich.-based appliance maker said in its earnings release April 24.

"(The) results reflect our actions to expand margins," chairman and chief executive officer Jeff M. Fettig said in a statement. "We expect to see moderately higher revenue growth due to continued strength in U.S. housing and improving demand trends internationally."

Whirlpool continues to leverage its competitive cost structure and invest in consumer products to reach its long-term growth goals, he said.

Whirlpool North America reported first-quarter sales of $2.2 billion, essentially level with a year earlier, but operating earnings jumped 44.4 percent to $218 million from $151 million.

The company expects U.S. industry unit shipments to increase 2 to 3 percent in 2013.

Whirlpool’s Latin America sales fell 7.7 percent to $1.2 billion in the first quarter, but operating earnings rose 7.4 percent to $130 million.

Industry shipments in the region are expected to increase 3 to 5 percent this year, the company said.

Whirlpool sales in Europe, the Middle East and Africa slipped 2.8 percent in the first quarter, resulting in an $8-million operating loss. Industry shipments in the region are expected to be flat this year.

First-quarter sales by the Whirlpool Asia unit fell 7.4 percent from a year earlier and operating earnings plunged 66.7 percent to $3 million. Industry shipments are expected to increase 3 to 5 percent this year.

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