Whirlpool Corp plans to shut a plant in Evansville, Indiana and move some production to Mexico next year, a change that will eliminate about 1.6 percent of the world's biggest appliance maker's workforce.
Given the industry downturn, Whirlpool has to move production to larger, newer, more efficient plants... Those happen to be in Mexico in the refrigeration category, Cowen and Co analyst Laura Champine said.
The company, which has beaten expectations in the last two quarters on aggressive cost-cutting, said the move to eliminate some 1,100 full-time positions in the United States would not affect its 2009 forecast.
But Whirlpool representative Jill Saletta refused to share specific information about the expected cost savings from the move.
Whirlpool said it was deciding on the best location for its Refrigeration Product Development Center, which is co-located with the Evansville manufacturing facility and has about 300 employees.
While the company plans to transfer production of top freezer refrigerators made at the facility to a unit in Mexico, it has not yet determined where to relocate its icemakers.
Whirlpool has already consolidated its Chinese operations, reduced its contribution to retirement plans, closed plants and cut capital spending to curb costs during the slump.
The company, which said its 2009 earnings and cash flow outlook remain unchanged, in July raised the low end of its 2009 earnings estimate to $3.50 a share from $3.00, while keeping the high end at $4.00.
Whirlpool shares closed up $1.57 at $66.11 Friday on the New York Stock Exchange.
(Reporting by Dhanya Skariachan; Additional reporting by Jessica Wohl; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Andre Grenon, Leslie Gevirtz)