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Whirlpool 1Q Net Income Rises

Whirlpool's net income rose 3 percent as it sold more appliances even after it raised prices to help combat rising material costs and benefited from cost-cutting.

BENTON HARBOR, Michigan (AP) -- Whirlpool Corp.'s first-quarter net income rose 3 percent as it sold more appliances even after it raised prices to help combat rising material costs and benefited from cost-cutting.

The Benton Harbor, Michigan, company, whose other brands include Maytag and Kitchenaid, also backed its full-year earnings guidance Wednesday.

The world's biggest appliance maker is not alone in its concern about rising material costs. Swedish home appliance maker Electrolux AB said Wednesday that prices on some of its most important raw materials, particularly plastics, continue to climb.

Some of Whirlpool's material costs go toward steel, copper and the resins that make plastic.

Whirlpool's net income rose to $169 million, or $2.17 per share, for the quarter that ended March 31, from $164 million, or $2.13 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding an adjustment to lower the total cost of a dishwasher recall, earnings were $2.11 per share. Analysts polled by FactSet expected $1.55 per share.

Revenue climbed 3 percent to $4.4 billion as sales improved, besting Wall Street's $4.26 billion.

In North America, revenue rose slightly to $2.3 billion while unit shipments climbed about 4 percent. U.S. unit shipments of major appliances dipped about 1 percent.

Revenue for Europe, the Middle East and Africa edged up 1 percent to $743 million, with industry unit demand flat. Latin America and Asia both reported 8 percent revenue increases.

"We have implemented cost-based price increases in many regions around the world, continue to introduce a strong cadence of innovative new products and remain focused on accelerating our cost reduction and productivity improvements to manage higher material cost inflation," Chairman and CEO Jeff Fettig said in a statement.

Looking ahead, Whirlpool still expects full-year earnings of $12 to $13 per share. Analysts predict $11.87 per share for the year.

Competitor Electrolux, which makes refrigerators and vacuums, reported Wednesday that its first-quarter profit fell due to unfavorable currency exchange rates, price pressure and increased raw material costs. The company said it plans to raise prices in North America and Europe.

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