Clean Quarter at Whirlpool

The appliance maker blows out the first quarter in its last earnings report before the Maytag buy.
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Whirlpool (WHR) - Get Report blew out first-quarter estimates Tuesday in its last quarter reporting as a stand-alone company before its acquisition of struggling rival Maytag (MYG) .

The Benton Harbor, Mich., appliance maker made $118 million, or $1.70 a share, for the quarter ended March 31, up from the year-ago $86 million, or $1.26 a share. Revenue rose 10% from a year ago to $3.5 billion. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were looking for a $1.50-a-share profit on sales of $3.34 billion.

"Our first-quarter results reflect solid performance by all regional businesses, strong earnings momentum generated from innovation, productivity, and leverage from our global operating platform," said CEO Jeff M. Fettig. "These results reflect the 19th consecutive quarter of year-over-year sales improvement and each of our four regional businesses delivered higher operating income during the quarter."

Record unit shipments, sales growth and a positive product mix combined with productivity improvements to drive a double-digit improvement in operating profit and offset acquisition related expenses, higher commodity prices, higher new product introduction costs and increased restructuring costs. Results also benefited from a reduced effective tax rate.

Whirlpool said the integration of Newton, Iowa-based Maytag, acquired March 31, is proceeding apace and that Whirlpool will update guidance for the combined company May 23.

Based on current economic conditions, the company continues to expect full-year industry unit shipments to increase 5%-7%.