What happened

Whirlpool (NYSE:WHR) shareholders beat a rising market last month. Their stock rose 16% in March compared to a 4.2% increase in the S&P 500, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

The rally added to impressive short-term gains for the kitchen and laundry appliance leader, whose stock is up over 20% so far in 2021.

A couple shopping for new appliances.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Investors gained confidence in an economic rebound last month, in part supported by a flood of federal stimulus support to consumers. Whirlpool's sales held up well through the pandemic as the housing market rose and as people prioritized spending around the home. The expectation is that these trends will continue lifting its earnings deep into 2021 .

Now what

That optimism will be tested when investors get a chance to review Whirlpool's next earnings report, slated for April 22. That announcement will include an update to management's 2021 outlook that currently calls for sales to rise by about 6%. If you believe Wall Street's optimism, then strengthening demand trends since that forecast was issued in late January imply an upgrade to that already bullish prediction in a few weeks.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.