Whirlpool profit surges as sales rebound, shares jump


Whirlpool Corp posted a stronger-than-expected jump in quarterly profit and raised its full-year outlook on Friday, citing sales gains in all of its markets, including Europe and North America.

The results suggested U.S. and euro zone consumer confidence may be turning the corner after being battered by debt crises and austerity measures in Europe and a weak economic recovery and high unemployment in the United States.

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Whirlpool shares jumped 6.1 percent at $126.63 in early trading.

Investors were searching for such signs of growth as China's economy continued to slow. Whirlpool, the world's largest appliance maker, and Swedish rival Electrolux AB have been anxious for signs of a rebound in mature markets. Sluggish sales there have forced them to rely more on still-growing markets and shift production from high-wage countries to lower-cost centers.

Whirlpool reported second-quarter profit of $198 million, or $2.44 a share, up from $113 million, or $1.43 share, during the same period last year.

Sales at the maker of Whirlpool, Maytag and KitchenAid appliances rose 5.3 percent to $4.74 billion.

The mean of analysts' estimates was for net income of $189 million and revenue of $4.66 billion, according to Reuters data.

Also on Friday, Electrolux posted second-quarter earnings in line with analysts' expectations and reported the first rise in total industry shipments of appliances in Europe in six quarters.

The Swedish company forecast a rebound in demand for its products in Europe accelerating in 2014, and raised its outlook for the United States this year, citing the country's housing recovery.

David MacGregor, an analyst at Longbow Research, called the results from both consumer bellwethers "very encouraging."

For Whirlpool, the gains were led by big unit sales increases in Europe and Latin America, where revenue rose nearly 6 percent, and the United States, where revenue was up 5.1 percent.

Whirlpool's focus on margin improvement was reflected in operating profit in Europe and Latin America, which jumped 77 percent and 31 percent, respectively.

The Benton Harbor, Michigan-based company increased its full-year diluted earnings forecast to a range of $10.05 to $10.55 a share from $9.80 to $10.30.

(Additional reporting by Mia Shanley and Sven Nordenstam in Stockholm; Editing by W Simon and Jeffrey Benkoe)