By Alan Wolf
Whirlpool reported a 9 percent increase in fourth quarter earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) for its North American division.
The $410 million take, representing 13.3 percent of sales, was gleaned despite what the appliance maker described as “soft industry demand” within the region. Indeed, net sales were essentially flat for the three-month period ended Dec. 31, 2019, slipping 0.3 percent to $3.1 billion.
Whirlpool attributed its strong financial performance to a greater mix of higher-priced product and disciplined cost cutting. Nevertheless, those measures were partially offset by higher manufacturing costs and lower fixed cost leverage.
On a global basis, net sales fell 4.9 percent to $5.4 billion for the quarter while net earnings shot up 69 percent to $288 million.
In a statement, Whirlpool Chairman/CEO Marc Blitzer labeled 2019 “a very strong year for Whirlpool as we successfully delivered against our commitments and reported results that outperformed our guidance expectations despite a continued challenging macro-environment.”
Blitzer described business conditions as “favorable” for its worldwide operations, citing demand for its innovative products and an easing of inflationary cost pressures. “We exited the year with solid momentum,” he said, “and we are confident in our [financial] guidance for 2020 and our ability to execute on our long-term strategy.”
For the full year, net sales decreased 2.9 percent to $20.4 billion, while net earnings nearly hit the $1.2 billion mark compared to a prior-year loss of $183 million.