Electrolux pins hopes on U.S. as Europe stagnates

Thu Apr 25, 2013 6:32am EDT
 
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By Patrick Lannin and Veronica Ek

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Household appliance maker Electrolux (ELUXb.ST: Quote) said it hoped a recovering North American market would drive growth this year as Europe is stuck in the doldrums.

Sweden's Electrolux and bigger U.S. rival Whirlpool (WHR.N: Quote) have cut costs and increased their exposure to faster-growing emerging markets to offset slowing growth in Europe and North America.

But U.S. demand has been picking up and Whirlpool has a relative advantage in being more exposed to the world's biggest economy, which accounts for half of its sales versus 30 percent for Electrolux.

Whirlpool reported higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Wednesday and stood by its earnings guidance for 2013.

For Electrolux Chief Executive Keith McLoughlin, born in New York and a veteran of the U.S. industry, the main headache is Europe, where consumer caution has spread from southern states to hitherto strong markets such as Germany and Sweden.

The company now expects waning demand for appliances in the region this year, but growth of 3 to 5 percent in North America.

"We see improvements in the (U.S.) housing market... people trading up a little bit more," McLoughlin told Reuters.

He saw no improvement in Europe in the first half of 2013.   Continued...