Whirlpool (WHR -1.30%) is known to consumers for providing a broad range of reliable home appliances; similarly, the stock is known on Wall Street for providing a reliable stream of income through dividends and share-price appreciation over time. Wresting returns from Whirlpool stock in 2022 might not be so easy, though, as supply chain disruptions weigh on investor sentiment.
Still, in a time when growth is out and defensive stocks are in vogue, Whirlpool stock should continue to appeal to risk-averse investors. Amid this backdrop, Whirlpool's recently reported financial results provide ample fodder for both bulls and bears. How you choose to parse the data should, at least to a certain extent, determine on which side of the fence you'd like to sit.
Whirlpool stock doesn't necessarily offer thrills, even during earnings events. If consistency is your criterion, however, then Whirlpool is a company you can count on.
For example, income investors will appreciate that Whirlpool increased its quarterly dividend by 25% in the first quarter of 2022 to $1.75 per share. For what it's worth, this event marks 10 consecutive years of dividend increases for the company. Currently, Whirlpool offers a forward annual dividend yield of nearly 4% -- not too shabby and perhaps an invitation for income investors to "rinse and repeat" by reinvesting the distributions into more shares.
Moreover, Whirlpool Chairman and CEO Marc Bitzer called his company's balance sheet "very strong". The company did indeed report having $2.1 billion in cash and cash equivalents as of March 31, 2022. However, this compares unfavorably to the $3 billion Whirlpool had as of Dec. 31, 2021.
Additionally, value seekers should appreciate Whirlpool's ultra-low trailing 12-month price-to-earnings ratio of 6.5. This suggests that, regardless of the earnings data we're about to analyze, it's probably at least good enough to justify the current Whirlpool share price.
Accentuating the positive
It is not unusual for earnings-related press releases to highlight the positive angles in the data. However, Whirlpool evidently made a special effort to put a positive spin on numbers that may seem disappointing at first glance.
For instance, when perusing Whirlpool's Q1 2022 earnings presentation, readers might feel a sense of cognitive dissonance when reading "PROFITABLE GROWTH" in all caps, with a year-over-year net sales change of -8.2% underneath. The company's justification for the "profitable growth" claim is that Whirlpool's Q1 net sales of $4.9 billion represent more than 17% organic growth between 2019 and 2020.
In other words, Whirlpool only had to extend the look-back period to justify its optimism. In a separate press release, Whirlpool touted "Robust sales growth" in Q1 2022 "compared to pre-pandemic levels with healthy underlying consumer demand."
Turning to the bottom line, Whirlpool maintained the theme of comparing current results to data from two or more years ago with "Solid Q1 ongoing EPS... of $5.31, fundamentally stronger than pre-pandemic levels." The bears, in contrast, would probably prefer to report that Whirlpool's Q1 2022 ongoing earnings per share (EPS) of $5.31 represents a 26.3% decline from the year-earlier quarter's result of $7.20.
Something for (almost) everyone
Whirlpool stock offers something enticing for value seekers, dividend collectors, and balance-sheet aficionados. Plus, if you're willing to indulge Whirlpool in a bit of timeline stretching, the company demonstrates some forms of top- and bottom-line growth.
If you're seeking absolute perfection in the fiscal data, however, you won't find it here. Whirlpool still needs to show year-over-year improvement in its upcoming quarterly reports. For the time being, though, Whirlpool stock can continue to serve as a reliable, yield-producing mainstay in just about any defensive investor's portfolio.