Whirlpool quarterly profit tops estimates; sales miss

Whirlpool Corp reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Thursday as price increases and cost cuts helped the world's largest appliance maker counter lackluster demand in Europe and North America.

The maker of Maytag and KitchenAid appliances has benefited from cutting costs and manufacturing capacity, raising prices and adopting a string of measures to boost productivity. In recent quarters, the company decided to focus less on the lower-end appliance segment to protect margins.

"Those actions, combined with improving trends in U.S. housing and growth opportunities in emerging markets, create positive momentum going into 2013," Chief Executive Officer Jeff Fettig said in a statement.

Whirlpool said fourth-quarter net earnings had fallen to $122 million, or $1.52 a share, from $205 million, or $2.62 a share, a year earlier.

Excluding special items, Whirlpool earned $2.29 a share. Analysts on average were looking for $2.23, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Sales fell 2.4 percent to $4.79 billion, while analysts expected $4.88 billion.

Swedish rival Electrolux is due to report quarterly results on Friday.

(Reporting by Dhanya Skariachan; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)