Whirlpool Q1 Profit More Than Doubles

Sales of appliances improved both domestically and abroad.

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.

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% 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% to $2.3 billion as unit shipments of major appliances climbed 6%. European revenue increased 6% to $739 million, with unit demand essentially flat.

Latin American sales jumped 65% to $1.1 billion mostly on higher sales volumes, increased productivity and the impact of a weaker dollar. In Asia, revenue surged 60% to $192 million.

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.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press

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