(Adds details of results, company comment on prices, stock move)
By Nick Carey
(Reuters) – Whirlpool Corp posted a higher quarterly net income on Tuesday but lowered its profit forecast and sales outlook for 2015, predicting a significant drop in Latin American sales owing largely to Brazil’s stagnating economy.
The world’s largest maker of home appliances said the strength of the U.S. dollar would continue to affect profits this year.
Shares in Whirlpool dropped almost 9 percent after the announcement.
In February the company warned that the strong greenback, which means overseas sales of its washers and dryers, cooktops, stoves and refrigerators translate into fewer U.S. dollars, could shave $ 1 billion of its revenue in 2015.
In a conference call with analysts, Whirlpool said it has introduced price increases in a number of markets including in Canada, eastern Europe and Brazil to help offset the impact of the strong dollar.
The world’s largest maker of home appliances reported first-quarter net income up 19 percent year on year to $ 191 million, or $ 2.38 a share. Analysts had expected earnings per share of $ 2.34 for the quarter.
Revenue for the quarter totaled $ 4.8 billion, up from $ 4.4 billion a year earlier. Wall Street analysts had predicted first-quarter sales of $ 5.06 billion.
Sales in North America, Whirlpool’s biggest market, rose 0.4 percent in the quarter, but plummeted 24 percent in Latin America. In Europe and Asia the company’s sales rose dramatically, reflecting recent acquisitions of Italian appliance maker Indesit and Chinese appliance maker Hefei Rongshida Sanyo Electric Co Ltd.
The Benton Harbor, Michigan-based company said that cost reductions and recent acquisitions had helped offset the impact of the strong U.S. dollar and falling demand in Brazil during the first quarter.
Citing those same problems moving forward, Whirlpool lowered its earnings per share forecast for 2015 to a range of between $ 12 to $ 13, from its previous prediction of $ 14 to $ 15.
Analysts have predicted 2015 earnings for the company of $ 13.81.
Whirlpool said its industry shipments in North America should rise by roughly 4 percent this year, down from its previous forecast of between 4 percent to 6 percent.
The company said sales in Latin America should drop in 2015 by between 10 percent to 12 percent, markedly lower than its previous forecast of flat to down 3 percent.
Whirlpool left its forecasts for Europe and Asia unchanged.
In early trading on the New York Stock Exchange, Whirlpool shares were down more than 8.8 percent at $ 180.33. (Editing by David Goodman, W Simon and Chris Reese)