Whirlpool Provides Update on Operations, Withdraws Stock Guidance

Whirlpool Corporation has issued an update on their current status in the realm of the pandemic. Here is what they report to us this afternoon:

With COVID-19 becoming a worldwide pandemic, Whirlpool Corporation remains focused on ensuring the safety of its employees, as well as delivering the critical goods and services that customers across the world need to stay home and stay safe.

Whirlpool proactively took decisive actions and implemented business continuity plans in late January 2020. These global actions were first and foremost focused on our employee health and safety, such as travel bans, remote work policies, line distancing in our factories and enhanced cleaning and hygiene in our facilities, among other measures. To ensure business continuity, Whirlpool initiated proactive measures to ensure component availability and protect its global supply chain. In addition, the company initiated immediate discretionary budget cuts, and tighter controls on working capital, and is significantly reducing its variable costs through an intense focus on cost discipline.

Over the past days, our global operating environment was faced with additional challenges and government ordered shutdowns, and we may face additional disruptions:

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  • North America: Reductions in capacity at U.S. manufacturing facilities as adjustments are made in line with Centers for Disease Control and other regulatory guidelines.
  • EMEA: Temporary suspension of operations at manufacturing facilities in Italy coupled with major logistics disruptions throughout the region.
  • Latin America: Reductions in capacity at the Joinville, Brazil manufacturing facility, as adjustments are made in line with regulatory guidelines.
  • Asia: Temporary suspension of operations at manufacturing and warehousing facilities in India while China production is now back to near full capacity.

As a result of this unprecedented uncertainty in our macro environment, the company has decided to withdraw its previously announced guidance for 2020. The company expects COVID-19 driven demand disruptions and production impacts to continue to negatively affect results. Given the rapidly evolving situation, the first quarter financial impact may slightly exceed the company’s previous estimate of $25 – $40 million in earnings before interest and taxes.

Whirlpool has a strong financial position and the liquidity required to continue operations during this volatile period. The company ended fiscal 2019 with a cash balance of approximately $2 billion, and Gross Debt to EBITDA below 3x. Also, the company maintains a $3.5 billion revolving credit facility, under which it initiated borrowing of approximately $2.2 billion on March 13, 2020. A portion of the proceeds from the borrowing were used to fund commercial paper repayment and the remainder is being held on the company’s balance sheet and may be used to fund additional commercial paper repayment, working capital, and other general corporate purposes. The company believes its current cash balance, and committed credit facilities, which include $215 million in additional availability from facilities in Brazil and India, provide the financial flexibility needed to support the company’s global operations.

Marc Bitzer, Chairman & CEO says, “Whirlpool is well prepared to successfully navigate through this difficult period. We have demonstrated strong fixed cost discipline, and initiated a large additional cost reduction initiative prior to the outbreak,” and adds, “Over the years, we have made strategic decisions to strengthen our balance sheet and transform our company. We believe these actions, coupled with our strong ability to generate cash flow, have positioned us well to not only cope with the current crisis, but also to win in the economic recovery.”

Whirlpool plans on providing further information on the global impact of COVID-19 at its upcoming earnings call, which is currently scheduled for May 1, 2020.