Whirlpool second quarter profit falls on lower consumer demand

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. -- Second-quarter profit fell 33 percent for Whirlpool Corp., the world's largest maker of major home appliances, as consumer demand for its products significantly weakened.

But the profit handily beat analyst expectations, and the company, whose brands include Maytag, KitchenAid and its namesake, also boosted the low end of its full-year profit guidance above analysts' estimates.

Whirlpool cited progress on lowering working capital, improving pricing and product mix and cost controls.

Whirlpool earned $78 million, or $1.04 per share, for the period ended June 30. That's down from $117 million, or $1.53 per share, a year earlier.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters predicted a profit of 51 cents per share.

Whirlpool has found that shoppers are still putting off some of their home appliance purchases amid a recession complicated by tight credit and falling housing values.

"Consumer demand for appliances was significantly lower in the second quarter, which negatively impacted our global unit volumes," Chairman and CEO Jeff M. Fettig said in a statement.

Revenue dropped 18 percent to $4.17 billion from $5.08 billion on the stronger dollar, missing Wall Street's expectations for sales of $4.2 billion.

Revenue at its North America division slipped 17 percent to $2.4 billion, while sales for its European segment dropped 25 percent to $786 million. At its Latin America unit, revenue fell 16 percent to $844 million. One bright spot was Whirlpool Asia, which saw a 3 percent uptick in sales.

Benton Harbor, Mich.-based Whirlpool now expects earnings of $3.50 to $4 per share. Prior guidance was for profit of $3 to $4 per share.

Analysts forecast full-year net income of $3.41 per share.

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