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Whirlpool CEO: We will see a U-shaped recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic

Brian Sozzi
Editor-at-Large

Those economists on Wall Street pontificating on the prospects of a V-shaped global economic recovery post the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic — one where growth snaps back hard later this year — should give Whirlpool CEO Marc Bitzer a call.

Bitzer thinks it will be more of a U-shaped recovery, or a rebound that gathers pace over time.

“I know there were some looking for a V-type [recovery]. We would love to see it happen, but we don’t think it will happen,” Bitzer said on Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade.

Bitzer’s view is rooted in two areas.

First is the demand data he is seeing out of China and Italy as both economies come back online post the height of the pandemic’s effects. Demand for appliances is improving steadily in each country, but not at some rip-roaring pace.

Secondarily is a bit of commonsense. The U.S. housing market has not undergone another financial crisis similar to 2008-2009. Bitzer believes that means a more shallow economic downturn —at least for appliances —following the peak of COVID-19.

“Right now, we would argue everything points towards the U-type recovery,” Bitzer said.

FILE - In this July 20, 2009 file photo, the Whirlpool logo appears on the face of a refrigerator for sale at the Sears Grand store in Solon, Ohio. Whirlpool said Friday, Aug. 28, 2009, it will cut 1,100 jobs and close a refrigerator factory in Evansville, Ind. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta, file)

Bitzer is putting his money where his mouth is, so to speak.

Whirlpool was one of the few large companies in Corporate America to issue full-year guidance (organic sales down 10% to 15%) on its Friday earnings report. The company retained its dividend unlike most in the industrial complex. Whirlpool has paid a dividend for 74 straight years, Bitzer notes.

Whirlpool shares rose slightly in afternoon trading. The stock has surged 31% in the past month versus a 13% gain for the S&P 500, according to Yahoo Finance Premium data.

First quarter earnings came in at $2.82 a share, beating analyst forecasts for $2.56 a share. Total sales were $4.32 billion versus analyst estimates for $4.28 billion.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-anchor of The First Trade at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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