Whirlpool: Spinning Gains?

11/30/2015 7:01 am EST

Focus: STOCKS

Roy Ward

Chief Analyst, Cabot Benjamin Graham Value Investor

This new value-oriented buy recommendation is the largest maker of home appliances in the world; its products include laundry appliances, refrigerators and freezers, cooking appliances, and dishwashers, notes J. Royden Ward, editor of Benjamin Graham Value Investor.

Whirlpool (WHR) is based in Michigan and was founded in 1955. Its brand names include Whirlpool, Maytag, KitchenAid, Roper, Jenn-Air, and Amana.

Sales in North America in 2015 are unchanged from a year ago, but profits are advancing due to cost cuts and lower raw material costs.

Sales growth in Europe and China is solid, but sales in Latin America fell 27% because of the recession in Brazil. Whirlpool has cut production to keep costs in line with lower sales.

The company's acquisition of American Dryer in July is adding meaningful sales and earnings and offers multiple expansion opportunities.

Whirlpool has also entered into a contract to supply Ryan Homes, the nation's fifth largest homebuilder, with all appliances for new homes. Whirlpool has additional ventures and acquisitions pending.

Whirlpool's sales rose 12% and EPS advanced 11% in the past 12 months ended September 30, 2015, after posting minimal gains in the previous three years.

During the next 12 months, sales will rise only 6%, hampered by the severe slowdown in Brazil, but EPS will surge 19% to $14.25, aided by lower raw material costs and strong contributions from American Dryer.

WHR has lost 27% during the past eight months, mostly due to flat earnings results in the first half of 2015. EPS growth accelerated in the third quarter, though, and will continue to accelerate during the next several quarters.

The stock sells at 13.0 times latest EPS, its balance sheet is solid, and the dividend yield is 2.3% and rising. The company's return on equity of 16%, a measure of profitability, is also attractive.

WHR will likely climb 25% to my minimum sell price target of $196.22 within one year. Buy at the current price.

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