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Whirlpool’s 1st Quarter Tops Forecasts

April 21, 2003

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (AP) _ With record North American revenues bolstered by acquisition and improved performances in Europe and Latin America, Whirlpool Corp. on Monday reported first-quarter 2003 results that exceeded Wall Street expectations.

The world’s largest maker of major home appliances reported quarterly profits of $91 million, or $1.32 per share. The consensus estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call was $1.29 per share.

During the first quarter of 2002, before factoring in the cumulative effect of a change in accounting principle and restructuring activities, Whirlpool had net earnings of $84 million, or $1.21 per share. Including those factors, the company had a net loss of $529 million, or $7.63 per share.

First-quarter net sales of $2.7 billion were up 6 percent from the same period last year. Excluding sales from Whirlpool’s 2002 acquisitions of Polar S.A. of Poland and Vitromatic S.A. de C.V. of Mexico, net sales increased 2 percent.

Whirlpool North America posted record first-quarter sales of $1.8 billion, 5 percent higher than the year-ago period; excluding the addition of Vitromatic, now called Whirlpool Mexico, sales were up slightly. Whirlpool Europe, and Whirlpool Latin America had solid gains in profit.

``Our businesses delivered a solid performance for the quarter, despite uncertainty in global markets and generally weak industry demand,″ David R. Whitwam, Whirlpool’s chairman and chief executive officer, said in a news release. ``Our operations significantly improved productivity and lowered costs, which helped partially offset year-over-year increases in pension, health care, energy and material costs.″

Whitwam also said the company was revising full-year earnings-per-share guidance to a range of $5.90 to $6.10. The company had previously forecast full-year earnings per share of $6.20 to $6.40.

The company overcame charges of 27 cents per share in pension and health care costs for the three-month period that ended March 31.

During a morning teleconference, financial analysts peppered Whitwam with questions about the company’s accounting and whether it truly reflected Whirlpool’s performance during the quarter.

``We are seeing some weaknesses in consumer activity,″ he said. ``None of us can project when those are going to turn positive, yet we do believe we are taking the steps inside of our business to make sure we’re dealing with the realities of the marketplace that we’re in, and to continue to deliver on the commitment that we have with all of you.″

In morning trading, shares of Whirlpool rose 5 cents, or .09 percent, to $53.73, on the New York Stock Exchange.

Benton Harbor-based Whirlpool has annual sales of $11 billion, employs 68,000 people and markets its Whirlpool, KitchenAid and other brands to consumers in more than 170 nations.


On the Net:

Whirlpool Corp., http://www.whirlpool.com/

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