Electrolux Says It Swung to Fourth Quarter Profit

Sweden's Electrolux, one of the world's top household appliance makers, said Wednesday it had swung to a fourth-quarter net profit from a previous loss, thanks to higher income in all its units, with particularly strong performance in Europe.

The Stockholm-based company also proposed a dividend of 4 kronor ($0.57) per share, and said it expected its operating income in 2007, excluding extraordinary losses, to be higher than in 2006.

Electrolux said net profit for the three-month period ended Dec. 31 came to 1.44 billion kronor ($205 million) from a previous loss of 440 million kronor in the year-ago period, excessively beating analysts forecasts of 922 billion kronor ($131 million).

The result was boosted by a 36 million kronor ($5.1 million) reversal for unused restructuring provisions, and last year's figure was also weighed by costs for plant closures in Europe.

For the full year 2006, net profit rose to 3.85 billion kronor ($547 million) from 1.76 billion kronor in 2005.

Sales in the quarter rose to 27.89 billion kronor ($4 billion), down slightly from 28.65 billion kronor in the same period last year. Electrolux said unfavorable exchange rates weighed on the number, while volumes, price and product mix contributed favorably.

For 2007, the company said that market demand for appliances was expected to grow in Europe, while the North American market was forecast to decline compared with 2006. Raw material costs were also expected to be higher.