Whirlpool 4Q Profit Up on Price Increases

Thursday, February 2nd 2006, 9:44 am
By: News On 6

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (AP) _ Whirlpool Corp., the appliance maker in the midst of acquiring smaller rival Maytag Corp., on Thursday reported strong pricing of its products and lower taxes pushed profit higher by 30 percent in the fourth quarter.

The company posted profit of $126 million, or $1.83 per share, up from $97 million, or $1.44 per share, in the fourth quarter of 2004. Sales during the quarter rose to $3.95 billion from $3.63 billion in the year-ago period.

Analysts, on average, projected profit of $1.70 per share on sales of $3.83 billion, according to Thomson Financial.

``Overall, 2005 was a challenging operating environment where we faced all-time high levels of material and oil-related costs,'' said Chairman and CEO Jeff M. Fettig in a statement. ``Our global business responded well to this environment and enabled us to deliver a record year of results for our shareholders.''

He said results were positively impacted by improved productivity, increased pricing to match costs, volume growth, tax credits and a lower effective tax rate. However, weighing on profit during the period was higher incentive compensation, material and oil-related cost increases, higher restructuring costs and increased reserves for litigation.

Looking ahead, Benton Harbor-based Whirlpool projects 2006 earnings in the range of $7 to $7.25 per share _ without taking into account the effects of its proposed acquisition of Maytag. Analysts project profit of $6.34 for the year.