Benton Harbor-based Whirlpool Corp. (NYSE: WHR) announced first-quarter net earnings of $169 million, or $2.17 a share, compared to $164 million, or $2.13 a share reported during the same period last year.
Sales of $4.4 billion increased 3 percent from the $4.3 billion reported in the first quarter of 2010.
Results were favorably impacted by cost reduction and productivity initiatives, increased monetization of certain tax credits, and higher unit volume. These favorable factors were offset by lower product price/mix and higher material and oil-related costs.
“Our first quarter results reflect our ongoing cost reduction efforts and continued innovation investments, which helped to mitigate significant material cost inflation,” said Jeff M. Fettig, Whirlpool chairman and CEO. “We recently announced a 16 percent dividend increase, reflective of the success of our brand value creation strategy and our strong financial position. We remain committed to attracting and retaining consumers to our brands, providing excellent service and value to our trade customers and consumers while driving lower costs and higher quality across our global operations.”
Whirlpool North America reported first-quarter sales of $2.3 billion, down slightly from last year. North America unit shipments increased approximately 4 percent. The North America region reported operating profit of $59 million compared to $94 million in the previous year. Results were favorably impacted by cost reduction and productivity initiatives and foreign exchange fluctuations. These factors were offset by lower product price/mix and higher material costs.
Whirlpool Europe, Middle East and Africa reported first-quarter sales of $743 million, a 1 percent increase from the prior year. Industry unit demand during the quarter was estimated to be equal to the prior year. The region reported an operating profit of $25 million during the first quarter compared to an operating profit of $27 million in the previous year. Results were unfavorably impacted by lower product price/mix and higher material costs, partially offset by cost reduction and productivity initiatives.
Whirlpool Latin America reported first-quarter net sales of $1.2 billion, an increase of 8 percent from the prior year. Excluding currency translation, sales increased approximately 2 percent. Operating profit totaled $174 million in the first quarter compared with $167 million in the prior year. The improvement in profitability is primarily related to increased monetization of certain tax credits and cost reduction and productivity initiatives. These factors were partially offset by higher material costs.
Whirlpool Asia reported first-quarter sales of $208 million, increasing 8 percent from the prior year. Excluding the impact of currency, sales increased approximately 6 percent. Operating profit totaled $11 million during the first quarter of 2011 and was approximately equal to the prior year level. Favorable volume and product price/mix were offset by higher material costs during the quarter.
For 2011, Whirlpool said it continues to expect to produce diluted earnings per share of $12 to $13. For the full year, the company expects to generate free cash flow between $400 million and $500 million. This outlook includes approximately $300 million to $350 million of U.S. energy tax credits and U.S. cash pension contributions of approximately $300 million.
Whirlpool s the world’s leading manufacturer and marketer of major home appliances, with annual sales of over $18 billion in 2010, 71,000 employees, and 66 manufacturing and technology research centers around the world. The company markets Whirlpool, Maytag, KitchenAid, Jenn-Air, Amana, Brastemp, Consul, Bauknecht and other major brand names to consumers in nearly every country around the world.
More at www.whirlpoolcorp.com.