Global appliance maker Whirlpool Corporation announced net earnings increased 37 percent in the first quarter of 2006 to U.S. $118 million, or $1.70 per diluted share, compared to $86 million, or $1.26 per diluted share, in the prior-year period. Net sales increased 10 percent to $3.5 billion during the quarter and represented a first-quarter record.
"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 Jeff M. Fettig, Whirlpool chairman and CEO. "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."
Results in the quarter do not include Maytag Corporation. Expenses of $13 million associated with the transaction are included within the company's first-quarter operating profit. Maytag's operating results will be included in the company's second-quarter statement of operations.
Whirlpool's North America operations delivered record first-quarter unit shipments, revenue and operating profit. Sales of $2.2 billion increased 12 percent from the prior-year period. For the quarter, the company's U.S. unit shipments of major appliances, which include washers, dryers, refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, ranges, and compactors, exceeded industry levels, which were up approximately 6 percent. The company expects full-year 2006 industry unit shipments to increase approximately 2 percent to 3 percent.
Whirlpool's Europe operations reported revenue of $710 million declined 3 percent from the prior-year period. Sales increased approximately 6 percent, driven by record first-quarter unit shipments. Year-over-year unit shipments exceeded industry demand, which is estimated to have increased 1 percent to 2 percent during the quarter. Whirlpool expects 2006 industry unit shipments in the region to increase approximately 1 percent to 2 percent.
Whirlpool's Latin America operations reported sales of $531 million, for an increase of 20 percent from the prior-year period, driven by strong appliance unit volume. Sales increased approximately 11 percent. Industry unit shipments of appliances are estimated to have increased approximately 13 percent during the quarter. The company expects regional industry shipments in 2006 to increase 8 percent to 10 percent.
Whirlpool's Asia operations reported sales of $97 million were an increase of 2 percent from the prior-year period. Sales increased approximately 5 percent and regional shipments are expected to increase 5 percent to 7 percent.
For the rest of the year, Whirlpool expects material- and oil-related costs to remain volatile. The company also said plans to integrate Maytag into the company are underway. "The process to integrate the Maytag and Whirlpool businesses is proceeding as planned and we look forward to providing additional information regarding the merger, as well as updating our guidance on May 23, 2006," Fettig said.
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