BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (AP) _ Whirlpool Corp., the home appliance maker, on Thursday said earnings for the first quarter fell 14.9 percent from a year ago, citing higher costs for fuel and raw materials.
The maker of the Whirlpool and KitchenAid brands said net income fell to $86 million, or $1.26 per share, in the January-March period from $101 million, or $1.43 per share, a year ago. Whirlpool said the decline was driven by significantly higher material and oil-related costs.
The result topped the average estimate from analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial by 15 cents a share.
Whirlpool has plants in Findlay, Marion and Clyde in Ohio.
Whirlpool said price increases implemented by the company mitigated the increased costs.
Sales increased 6.7 percent to $3.21 billion from $3.01 billion and exceeded analysts' expectations for revenue of $3.12 billion. Excluding currency translations, net sales increased by about 4 percent.
``The results of pricing actions over the first three months of this year, including product and brand mix, were in line with expectations. Our operating results were significantly impacted by approximately $190 million in higher material and oil-related costs compared to the prior year's quarter,'' said Jeff M. Fettig, Whirlpool's chairman, president and chief executive officer.
Whirlpool said its North American operations posted record first-quarter revenue, with sales rising 4.5 percent to $1.98 billion, as the company raised prices from 5 percent to 10 percent across product lines. Industry shipments for major appliances are estimated to have declined by about 2 percent, the company said, due primarily to fewer shipping days and trade inventory reductions. Operating results at the segment fell 14 percent to $182 million, due mainly to the higher material and oil-related costs.
Sales in Europe rose 7.3 percent to $729 million. Excluding currency translations, sales increased approximately 2 percent. The company increased prices by 3 percent to 5 percent across all products and markets.
Whirlpool said it continues to forecast 2005 earnings at $5.90 to $6.10 per share. The company expects material and oil-related costs to increase between $500 million to $550 million for the year, which the company hopes to counter with price increases, cuts in nonproduct spending and the introduction of new products. Analysts currently expect the company to earn, on average, $5.83 per share. Estimates range from $5 to $6.50 per share, according to Thomson Financial.