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Whirlpool looks to calm investors as shares tumble more than 13 percent after Brexit vote COURTESY PHOTO

Whirlpool looks to calm investors as shares tumble more than 13 percent after Brexit vote

BY Tuesday, June 28, 2016 09:09am

BENTON HARBOR — With its share price down more than 13 percent since the Brexit vote, appliance maker Whirlpool Corp. looked to calm investors this morning by reaffirming its guidance for the 2015 fiscal year.

Last Thursday, the U.K. in a narrow 52-48 vote passed a referendum to exit the European Union, sending global markets on a two-day tumble.

Shares of Benton Harbor-based Whirlpool (NYSE: WHR) were among the most battered West Michigan-based shares in trading on Friday — the day the results of the Brexit vote became known — and on Monday. The company’s shares closed Thursday’s trading at $178.86, but slipped more than 13.6 percent to $154.46 per share yesterday.

On paper, Whirlpool lost $1.85 billion in market capitalization in two days of trading.

In a statement noting that the vote had “clearly” created uncertainties, Whirlpool Chairman and CEO Jeff Fettig said the company had planned ahead to react to either outcome in the Brexit vote.

“(W)e are prepared to take swift actions to offset the negative impact to our EMEA operations,” Fettig stated, adding that “the U.K. is an important country for us.”

Whirlpool will undertake “strong ongoing cost productivity programs” to lower costs for the EMEA region, as well as push forward with a planned price increase in the third quarter. Sales in the U.K. represented about 5 percent of Whirlpool’ global revenues.

In seeking to ease investors, Whirlpool executives reaffirmed the company’s full-year guidance for ongoing earnings per share in the $14.00 to $14.75 range, cash flow from operations of $1.4 billion to $1.55 billion and free cash flow of $700 million to $800 million.

Analysts estimate full-year EPS of $14.75, according to Yahoo Finance. Whirlpool plans to announce its second-quarter earnings the week of July 18.

Whirlpool wasn’t the only local publicly-traded company whose stock took a hit in the wake of the Brexit vote. Since Thursday, shares of Zeeland-based Herman Miller Inc. (Nasdaq: MLHR) were down nearly 13.5 percent, while the stock price for Midland-based Chemical Financial Corp. (Nasdaq: CHFC) dipped nearly 10.7 percent.

In addition to Whirlpool, two other publicly-traded companies in West Michigan had paper losses of more than $1 billion since Thursday. Kalamazoo-based Stryker Corp. lost nearly $1.35 billion in market capitalization, or about 3 percent. Meanwhile, Dublin-based and Allegan-headquartered Perrigo Co. plc lost more than $1.05 billion in market capitalization as its shares fell 7.7 percent.

However, futures for U.S. markets were up for today as global markets appeared to stabilize.

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