Earnings Reports for Jan. 24

Appliance maker Whirlpool met Wall Street's lowered fourth-quarter earnings expectations and affirmed its global restructuring plan will mean up to 6,000 jobs cut in the coming year.

The company said today it expects to trim more than 2,000 jobs worldwide as part of the restructuring's first phase, with more details to be announced within two weeks.

All told, the company shake-up — which will pare 10 percent of Whirlpool's 60,000-member work force — will result in pre-tax charges of $300 million to $350 million, with annualized savings of $225 million to $250 million, the company said.

"This will be a year of challenge and opportunity," David R. Whitwam, Whirlpool's chairman and chief executive, said in a statement. "We believe that our strong brands, global platform, innovative products and consumer focus — combined with our restructuring efforts and the associated lower cost structure - will produce a strong operational performance and solid financial results in 2001."

Whirlpool said its fourth-quarter net earnings were $67 million, or $1 per share, compared with $113 million, or $1.51 per share, during the year-ago period.

Analysts surveyed by First Call/Thomson Financial were expecting 99 cents per share, having lowered their estimate from $1.42 a share after Whirlpool issued an earnings warning last month. At the time, Whirlpool blamed intensified price competition, rising material costs, and slowing or declining demand.

The company said sales during the three months ended Dec. 31 were $2.58 billion, down 4 percent from $2.69 billion in the year-ago period.

It added that it expects its first-quarter performance, excluding charges, to be in line with fourth-quarter earnings of $1 per share. Analysts surveyed by First Call/Thomson Financial had been expecting $1.02 per share.

The North American appliance industry has been expected to be down 7 percent to 8 percent in the fourth quarter versus the same period in 1999, Whirlpool said last month. Earlier company estimates forecast a fourth-quarter decline in industry shipments of 2 percent to 3 percent.

Whirlpool has said its restructuring involves a reduction and reconfiguration of global operations, including the closure of some plants.

For the year, Whirlpool earned $367 million, or $5.20 per share, on sales of $10.33 billion. In the previous year, the company earned $347 million, or $4.56 per share, on sales of $10.51 billion.

Whirlpool is the world's largest manufacturer and marketer of major home appliances. It sells products under 11 brand names in more than 170 countries. The Benton Harbor-based company has major operations in seven states — Arkansas, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma and Tennessee — and 12 countries, including Canada and Mexico.

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