Whirlpool posts strong third quarter

Benton Harbor, Mich.-based Whirlpool Corp. posted third-quarter net earnings of $177 million, compared with net earnings of $79 million in the same period last year. Sales in the quarter were $4.6 billion, up 2% to $4.5 billion reported in the third quarter of 2010. 

"During the quarter, we experienced weaker-than-expected global industry demand and elevated material costs," said Jeff Fettig, Whirlpool chairman and CEO.  "Consumers continue to show strong preference for our unmatched global brand portfolio and new product innovations, and we are beginning to see the benefits from previously announced price increases.  However, our results were negatively impacted by recessionary demand levels in developed countries, a slowdown in emerging markets and high levels of inflation in material costs. 

"Given the weakening global economic environment, we are today announcing aggressive plans that will result in substantial cost and capacity reductions. The plans are the result of a comprehensive global review of our operations, products and manufacturing facilities." 

Whirlpool plans to reduce cost and capacity with a workforce reduction of more than 5,000 positions -- about 10% -- primarily within North America and Europe. These plans include: 

• Reduction of about 1,200 salaried positions;
• Closure of the refrigeration manufacturing facility in Fort Smith, Ark., by mid-2012. Production from Fort Smith will be consolidated into North American sites to leverage existing resources and capacity;
• Relocation of dishwasher production from Neunkirchen, Germany, to Poland in January 2012; and
• Additional organizational efficiency actions in North America and Europe.

The company expects these actions will result in $400 million in annual cost savings by the end of 2013. 

Whirlpool North America saw third-quarter sales of $2.4 billion, a decrease of 2% from the prior year. Whirlpool Europe, Middle East and Africa reported third-quarter sales of $874 million, a 6% increase from the third quarter of 2010. Whirlpool Latin America reported third-quarter sales of $1.2 billion, an increase of 8% from the year-ago period. Whirlpool Asia saw third-quarter sales of $215 million, an increase of 10% from the prior year. 

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