Whirlpool sees better times ahead as it continues to cut costs

whirlpoolWhirlpool Corp. (WHR) said Friday that its third-quarter profit fell 47 percent as the world's biggest home appliance maker continues to slash costs to combat slumping demand for its big-ticket items.

The cost savings led Whirlpool to raise its full-year earnings guidance even though it still sees economic trouble ahead. Whirlpool has cut jobs and closed a factory to deal with lower sales.
Whirlpool, whose brands include Maytag and KitchenAid as well as its namesake, earned $87 million, or $1.15 per share. That's down from $163 million, or $2.15 per share, a year earlier.

Sales for the three months ended Sept. 30 dropped 8 percent to $4.5 billion from $4.9 billion.

The performance handily topped the estimates of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters for a profit of 77 cents per share on revenue of $4.28 billion. Analysts' estimates generally exclude one-time items.

Whirlpool, based in Benton Harbor, Mich., has found that many shoppers are still putting off appliance purchases amid a recession complicated by tight credit and falling housing prices, both of which hurt the market for appliances.

To deal with shrinking demand for its products, Whirlpool has trimmed jobs and shuttered a refrigerator factory in Evansville, Ind. In August the company disclosed in a regulatory filing that it would face $51 million in costs related to the plant's closing and 1,100 job cuts.

Not all is bleak for the appliance maker. Earlier this month Whirlpool said its Fort Smith, Ark. refrigerator factory might call back 150 employees who were laid off because demand was starting to improve. But the company noted that it needed to ensure that it would have the parts on hand to increase production.

Whirlpool raised its full-year profit forecast, saying its cost-cutting has helped it deal with softer demand. The appliance maker now expects earnings of about $4.25 per share, up from a prior outlook for profit of $3.50 to $4 per share.

Analysts expect earnings of $4.05 per share for the year.

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