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Shares of Whirlpool Corp. (WHR - Analyst Report) have been on the rise since this home appliances giant raised its full year outlook in late October, reaching a 52-week high on January 3. This Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) should benefit from its cost containment measures, price increases, expansion into fast-growing emerging economies and a bevy of new product launches. With low valuation metrics, including a price-to-sales (P/S) ratio of just 0.5, WHR looks to be a value play.

Whirlpool Tops in Q3

On October 23, Whirlpool reported adjusted earnings per share of $1.80 for the third quarter, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 12.5% and advancing significantly from last year’s 29 cents. The results were driven by improvements in the company’s North American operations and higher pricing.

Revenues fell 2.8% year over year to $4.50 billion. An unfavorable foreign currency translation and lower monetization of Brazilian tax credits weighed on the top line, despite a strong product price/mix.

Gross margin improved to 15.7% from 12.4% a year ago. Adjusted operating profit more than doubled to $263 million.

Whirlpool raised its adjusted earnings per share forecast (excluding restructuring charges and Brazilian tax credits) to between $6.90 and $7.10 from the earlier guidance of $6.50 to $7.00.

WHR is scheduled to report again on January 28. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the fourth quarter is currently $2.25 per share.

Earnings Estimates Rising for 2013

Four of five earnings estimates for 2013 have been revised higher in the past 60 days. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the year rose by 12 cents (or 1.3%) to $9.15 per share, reflecting a projected annualized growth of roughly 31%.

A Value Stock

Whirlpool has a lot to attract investors seeking value. In addition to having a low P/S, the stock has an attractive forward P/E ratio of 11.59. It also sports a low price-to-book (P/B) ratio of 1.9. (A P/S ratio lower than 1.0, a P/E below 15.0 and a P/B ratio under 3.0 generally indicate value).

Whirlpool’s shares performed well in 2012, generating a roughly 110% return. Shares reached as high as $94.34 on October 23 (the highest level since July 2010) following the announcement of the forecast-topping third quarter earnings. The stock continued to move higher since then and reached its 52-week high of $107.94 on January 3, 2013.

Founded in 1898, Whirlpool Corporation is one of the largest manufacturers of home appliances on the planet. Its brands include Whirlpool, Maytag, KitchenAid, Roper, Jenn-Air, Amana, Brastemp, Consul and Bauknecht. Whirlpool, which has a market cap of roughly $8.3 billion, has 65 manufacturing and technology research centers globally.


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