UPDATE 5-Whirlpool tops estimates; investors question momentum

* Q2 EPS ex-items $3.09 vs $2.17 estimate

* Raises FY shr view to $9.00-9.50 from $8.00-$8.50

* Reiterates shipment forecast for Brazil and Asia

* Shares fall as much as 5 pct
(Adds executive comments, raw material costs, shares)

By Dhanya Skariachan

NEW YORK, July 20 (BestGrowthStock) – Whirlpool Corp (WHR.N: ) beat
quarterly profit and sales estimates, but its shares fell as
much as 5 percent as the top appliance maker refrained from
raising shipment forecasts for its markets outside North
America.

Whirlpool saw sales rise 43 percent in Asia and 24 percent
in Latin America in the second quarter, but reiterated its unit
shipment forecasts calling for a gain of 5 percent to 8 percent
in Asia and about 10 percent in Brazil this year, raising
concerns about future growth prospects.

“In the second half of the year, there is some uncertainty
creeping into the investment thesis on Whirlpool,” Wall Street
Strategies’ Brian Sozzi said, underscoring the lackluster
shipment forecasts for Asia, Latin America and Europe.

The news came a day after rival Electrolux (ELUXb.ST: )
missed earnings forecasts and raised concerns about European
demand. [ID:nLDE66I06F]

Like many other U.S. companies, the maker of Maytag and
KitchenAid appliances has looked to Latin American and Asian
markets for growth amid weakness in Europe and a slowly
recovering U.S. economy.

“For the balance of the year, we expect … that the global
economic environment will remain fragile but we do expect
demand to be positive, albeit at a slower rate than in the
first half of the year,” Chief Executive Jeff Fettig said on a
call with analysts.

The company also told investors it expected raw material
costs for the year to be closer to the midpoint of its prior
forecast range of $200 million to $300 million, with a good
chunk of the costs to be realized only in the second half.

Whirlpool’s second-quarter net income rose to $205 million,
or $2.64 a share, from $78 million, or $1.04 a share, a year
earlier.

Excluding items, Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S calculated the
profit at $3.09 a share, compared with the analysts’ average
forecast of $2.17.

Sales rose about 8.8 percent to $4.53 billion, while
analysts expected some $4.50 billion.

Despite the strong second quarter and an improved full-year
profit outlook, Sozzi raised concerns about the back half of
the year, citing fewer government stimulus measures for
appliances, a cautious consumer and tougher comparisons.

A report on Tuesday showed June U.S. housing starts at
their lowest level in eight months, but a rise in permits
offered hope that home building was poised to pick up.
[ID:nN20249501]

For a graphic on Whirlpool’s results, click on
http://link.reuters.com/mef58m

EUROPE WEAK, U.S. RECOVERING

Sales in North America, Whirlpool’s top market, rose 6
percent to $2.5 billion. The company said it now expected 2010
U.S. industry unit shipments to come in at the top end of its
prior outlook of a 3 percent to 5 percent increase.

Whirlpool’s brighter shipment forecast for North America
could be based on the home builder contracts it won recently
and its hopes that consumers will spend some of their tax
credits on appliances, Sozzi said.

In Europe, sales fell 6 percent to $739 million.

For 2010, Whirlpool forecast earnings of $9 to $9.50 a
share, up from its prior outlook of $8 to $8.50.

Whirlpool shares were down 4.8 percent, or $4.43, at $88.52
on the New York Stock Exchange in midmorning, off an earlier
low at $87.23.

Stock Market News

(Reporting by Dhanya Skariachan; Editing by Matthew Lewis and
Maureen Bavdek)

UPDATE 5-Whirlpool tops estimates; investors question momentum