Whirlpool's Q1 earnings more than double to US$164M as appliance sales improve domestically and abroad; company lifts 2010 earnings forecast above Wall Street expectations

BENTON HARBOR, Michigan , April 26, 2010 () – Whirlpool Corp. said Monday that its first-quarter profit more than doubled as sales of its appliances improved both domestically and abroad.

The world's largest appliance maker also lifted its 2010 earnings forecast above Wall Street's expectations on its quarterly performance.

Its stock gained $7.89, or 7.7 percent, to $110.11 in premarket trading. The shares have traded between $37.24 and $102.42 over the last year.

Whirlpool, which sells Maytag, KitchenAid, Jenn-Air and its namesake brand, earned $164 million, or $2.13 per share, for the three months ended March 31. It earned $68 million, or 91 cents per share, a year ago.

The results were significantly higher than the $1.33 per share that analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected. These estimates normally remove one-time items.

Revenue rose 20 percent to $4.27 billion from $3.57 billion, topping estimates of $3.79 billion.

"We are pleased with the strong operational performance we reported in all of our regions," Chairman and CEO Jeff M. Fettig said in a statement.

People pulled back on purchases of big-ticket items like washers and dryers at the height of the recession — which hurt Whirlpool's profit. But that spending has been increasing again as economic conditions get better.

In North America, sales grew 7 percent to $2.3 billion as U.S. unit shipments of major appliances climbed 6 percent. Whirlpool predicts its full-year U.S. unit shipments will rise 3 percent to 5 percent, up from a previous forecast for a 2 percent to 4 percent increase.

European revenue increased 6 percent to $739 million, with unit demand essentially flat.

Latin American sales jumped 65 percent to $1.1 billion mostly on higher sales volumes, increased productivity and the impact of a weaker dollar. The appliance maker anticipates appliance shipments to Brazil will grow about 10 percent in 2010, compared with a prior outlook for a 5 percent to 10 percent rise.

In Asia, revenue surged 60 percent to $192 million. Whirlpool also raised its full-year unit shipment forecast for the region. The company now expects a 5 percent to 8 percent increase. Its previous guidance called for 3 percent to 5 percent growth.

Whirlpool now anticipates a 2010 profit between $8 and $8.50 per share. Its prior guidance was for earnings in a range of $6.50 to $7 per share. Analysts expect a profit of $7.08 per share for the year.

"While economic uncertainty remains, Whirlpool Corp. is well positioned to substantially grow earnings from prior-year levels," Fettig said.

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