Earnings up, costs down in 2023

By Alan Wolf, YSN

Whirlpool did the fiscally responsible thing amid last year’s modest appliance demand: paid down debt and cut more costs.

According to the company’s fourth-quarter and full-year earnings report, about $800 million in overhead was taken out in 2023 while repaying $500 million in term loans and rewarding shareholders with $384 million in dividends. That still left Whirlpool with $1.6 billion in cash on hand, which speaks, as CFO Jim Peters said, to “the strength of our balance sheet.” 

All that was accomplished against the backdrop of a promotionally-driven appliance market. In the fourth quarter, ended Dec. 31, 2023, net sales edged up 1.6% to $5 billion excluding the positive impact of currency fluctuations, and net earnings totaled $491 million following a year-ago loss of $1.6 billion.

In North America, fourth-quarter sales rose 1.3% to $2.9 billion as Whirlpool gained 1 point of market share, and earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) soared 46% to $242 million.

For the full year, net sales slipped 1.7% to $19.4 billion excluding currency fluctuations while net earnings totaled $481 million following a prior-year loss of $1.5 billion.

Looking ahead at 2024, Whirlpool expects annual industrywide sales to range between flat and plus 2% in North America, driven by strong replacement demand in the U.S. and improving sales of new and existing homes. The company also expects to realize another $300 million to $400 million in cost savings, CEO Marc Bitzer said, plus improved margins following its new European joint venture with Beko and Blomberg parent Arçelik.

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