Whirlpool Corp, the world's largest appliance maker, missed Wall Street's expectations for quarterly earnings and sales, hurt by weak demand in Europe and a stronger dollar.
The news on Tuesday pushed shares of the maker of Maytag and KitchenAid appliances down more than 7 percent in morning trading and raised concerns about sales in the key European market for the rest of the year.
Investors should brace themselves for a long period of weakness in Europe, said Brian Sozzi, chief equities analyst of NBG Productions.
"It has gotten worse," Sozzi said. "There is no reason for me to think that it is going to improve any time soon."
Home appliance makers have struggled with higher raw materials costs and tepid demand in developed markets, especially in Europe, which is reeling from an economic crisis. European shoppers have cut back spending on discretionary items such as refrigerators and freezers.
Whirlpool's second-quarter sales fell 4.6 percent to $4.51 billion, missing the analysts' average estimate of $4.63 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Sales at the company's Europe, Middle East and Africa unit fell to $692 million from $841 million a year earlier. Excluding currency translations, sales declined about 7 percent, as did unit shipments for the region.
Whirlpool said it still expected shipments to Europe, the Middle East and Africa to fall 2 percent to 5 percent for 2012. Weak consumer demand across the euro zone forced the company to cut back production in the region, it said.
Sozzi said he was surprised that Whirlpool did not cut its shipment outlook for that market. The company is probably counting on price increases to offset the potential weakness in sales volume, he said.
Both Whirlpool and smaller rival Electrolux of Sweden have raised prices this year to offset weakness in demand in key markets.
Last week, Electrolux reported second-quarter earnings that beat forecasts as strength in emerging markets offset weak demand in mature ones, especially Europe.
Like many U.S. companies that sell outside their home turf, Whirlpool was hurt by a stronger dollar that brings down the value of its exported goods.
The company's net profit was $113 million, or $1.43 a share, compared with a year-earlier net loss of $161 million, or $2.10 a share.
Excluding items, Whirlpool earned $1.55 a share, missing Wall Street's estimate of $1.64.
The company said it still expected earnings of $6.50 to $7.00 a share this year, while analysts have forecast $6.50.
Based on the current economic outlook, Whirlpool expects U.S. unit shipments this year to be flat to down 2 percent.
The Latin American market looks more promising for the company, with unit shipments expected to rise 5 percent to 7 percent there. Whirlpool expects shipments to Asia to be flat to up 2 percent.
Shares of Whirlpool were down 7.3 percent at $62.40 in morning trading.
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