BENTON HARBOR, Mich. — Whirlpool Corp. announced last week that its earnings per share grew 28% in 2007 to $8.10 per diluted share, up from $6.35 per share in 2006. The company reported record annual net sales of $19.4 billion, an increase of 7% percent from the year prior.
Fourth-quarter earnings from continuing operations totaled $187 million, 41% more than the $133 million in earnings the company posted in the final quarter of 2006. Revenues in the fourth quarter grew 7% to $5.3 billion from the $5.0 billion reported in fourth-quarter 2006.
“The year was filled with significant challenges and opportunities,” says Jeff M. Fettig, chairman and chief executive officer of Whirlpool Corp. “We delivered record financial results in the face of both the most challenging U.S. industry demand environment in more than two decades, and unprecedented global material price inflation.
“Our performance in this environment highlights the strength of our global brands and the geographic diversity of our global operating platform,” Fettig says. “During 2007, we completed the integration of the largest acquisition in the company’s history, introduced a continuous cadence of new global product innovation and delivered record international results.”
Net earnings for the quarter reflected continued strong momentum in Whirlpool’s international business and higher operating profits in North America. Operating profits increased 74% percent to $332 million, and the company’s operating profit margin expanded 2.4% from the previous year.
Whirlpool says these improvements are the result of cost efficiencies involved with the Maytag acquisition, improved productivity and a better product mix. Results were partially offset by ongoing macroeconomic challenges such as higher supply costs and decreasing demand in the U.S.
The company expects shipments within the U.S. to decline 3% to 5% in 2008, while Whirlpool Europe’s sales will be flat. Whirlpool Latin America, which contributed record fourth-quarter and full-year revenues and profits in 2007, is expected to grow 5% to 8% this year. Whirlpool Asia’s fourth-quarter sales grew 26% in 2007, and the company expects 2008 shipments to increase 5% to 10%.
“We expect the macroeconomic challenges related to material cost increases and lower U.S. and European demand to continue in 2008,” Fettig says. “We will offset [these] costs through cost-based pricing adjustments and productivity improvements. In addition, we are adjusting our cost structure to the lower expected industry demand levels.
“These actions, combined with our strong portfolio of brands, continuous flow of innovation and increased brand support should enable us to overcome the negative economic environment and deliver improved results for our shareholders.”