Demand Has 'Strong Momentum' in 2013: Whirlpool CEO
Fetting said that his company expects "global demand to be modestly higher than last year, with demand in the U.S. growing 2-3 percent. We also see good momentum in the housing market as we progress through the year." Fetting said he expects this trend to "ramp up" through 2013.
Whirlpool is considered by many to be a bellwether of consumer demand, with discretionary items such as Maytag and KitchenAid appliances.
Fetting said new home construction is "on its way to recovery and it is clearly creating new appliance demand." He does, however, see weakness in discretionary spending, which he sees as driven by consumer confidence.
"We're coming off low levels and we have a long way to go before we come to what we consider to be a norm," he said.
On Thursday, Whirlpool reported higher-than-expected profits in the fourth quarter in an environment of slack demand in Europe and North America.
Whirlpool said fourth-quarter net earnings had fallen to $122 million, or $1.52 a share, from $205 million, or $2.62 a share, a year earlier. Excluding special items, Whirlpool earned $2.29 per share, while analysts expected $2.23 per share, according to Thomson Reuters.
— Reuters contributed to this report