Whirlpool Corp., the Benton Harbor, Mich., appliance maker reported sales of $4.4 billion for its first fiscal quarter, a 3% rise over sales of $4.3 billion in the first quarter of 2010. Earnings for the worldwide manufacturer were $169 million for the quarter, compared with $164 million a year ago.
"Our first-quarter results reflect our ongoing cost reduction efforts and continued innovation investments, which helped to mitigate significant material cost inflation," said Jeff Fettig, chairman and CEO of Whirlpool Corp.
In the North American division, Whirlpool posted first-quarter sales of $2.3 billion, up slightly from the prior year. North America unit shipments increased approximately 4%. The North America region reported operating profit of $59 million compared with $94 million in the previous year. Results were favorably impacted by cost reduction and productivity initiatives and foreign exchange fluctuations. These factors were offset by lower product price/mix and higher material costs.
Based on the current economic outlook, Whirlpool continues to expect full-year 2011 U.S. industry unit shipments to increase between 2% and 3%.
"Despite a substantial increase in material and oil-related cost inflation, we are maintaining our full-year earnings and cash flow outlook," Fettig said. "We have implemented cost-based price increases in many regions around the world, continue to introduce a strong cadence of innovative new products and remain focused on accelerating our cost reduction and productivity improvements to manage higher material cost inflation."