But long-term market trends hold steady
By Alan Wolf, YSN
Whirlpool reported an 8 percent decrease in sales and a 25 percent drop in EBIT [earnings before interest and taxes] for its North America operations during the first quarter.
The appliance giant attributed the declines to supply-chain constraints and high inflation. Whirlpool noted that U.S. factory shipments were down 4 percent industrywide during the period, compelling the company to adjust its previous full-year forecast of 2- to 3-percent growth to flat performance across the marketplace.
That said, consumer demand remains significantly stronger than at pre-pandemic levels, CEO Marc Bitzer told analysts on a conference call, thanks to new work-from-home trends and a resilient housing market. He said recent rounds of price hikes would also bolster profits.
CFO Jim Peters added that supply constraints should ease somewhat this year, allowing Whirlpool to “build inventories slightly” and chip away at its backlog of orders.
Separately, the manufacturer unveiled a three-pronged plan to revamp the company by investing in high-growth, high-margin businesses. Elements of Whirlpool’s new strategy include growing its KitchenAid countertop appliance business; extending its reach into the commercial appliance channel; and the possible divestiture of its European operations as the company rethinks its global strategy.
“We’re … positioning our company for the future as a different Whirlpool operating in this very different world,” Bitzer said.