Whirlpool 1Q Sales Rise More Than Expected

Sounding a bullish tone about 2011, appliance maker Whirlpool (NYSE:WHR) released first-quarter results that blew away Wall Street’s expectations and backed its full-year guidance on Wednesday.

The maker of refrigerators, washing machines and other products said it earned $169 million, or $2.17 a share, last quarter. A year earlier it earned $164 million, or $2.13 a share.

Excluding one-time items, Whirlpool said it earned $2.11, soundly besting the Street’s view of just $1.64.

Revenue climbed 3% to $4.40 billion, topping consensus calls from analysts for $4.26 billion.

North American sales inched higher to $2.3 billion, while sales at its Europe, Middle East and Africa division increased 1% to $743 million. Latin American sales jumped 8% to $1.2 billion, matching an 8% rise in Asia to $208 million.

“Our first quarter results reflect our ongoing cost reduction efforts and continued innovation investments, which helped to mitigate significant material cost inflation," CEO Jeff Fettig said in a statement.

In a sign of confidence in the economy, Whirlpool reaffirmed its 2011 EPS view of $12 to $13. Even the pessimistic end of that range would exceed estimates for $11.74. Whirlpool said it expects 2011 North American shipments to rise 2% to 3%, compared with a forecasted jump of 6% to 8% in Asia.

“We remain committed to attracting and retaining consumers to our brands, providing excellent service and value to our trade customers and consumers while driving lower costs and higher quality across our global operations,” Fettig said.

Shares of Whirlpool climbed 2.97% to $90.47, trimming their 2011 loss to 1.1%. Even with those gains, Whirlpool is still off 18% from a year ago.