June 20, 2017 / 10:51 PM / 2 months ago

UPDATE 1-Whirlpool CEO Fettig to step down, COO Bitzer named as successor

(Adds company comment, analyst comments, stock move)

By Nick Carey

DETROIT, June 20 (Reuters) - Whirlpool Corp, the world's largest maker of home appliances, said on Tuesday that Jeff Fettig will step down on Oct. 1 after 13 years as chief executive and will be replaced by the firm's current chief operating officer, Marc Bitzer.

Whirlpool shares rose more than 0.7 percent in after-market trading following the news.

Fettig, 60, has served as CEO since 2004 and will remain as chairman of the board of the Benton Harbor, Michigan-based company.

"Jeff has done an exceptional job over a long and successful career," said Robert Wetenhall, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets. "He leaves the company in great shape with a strong management team in place."

Wetenhall said this was a "natural transition" to a new CEO and was to be expected after Fettig's 13 years at the helm of Whirlpool.

The move comes after a number of mixed quarters for the appliance maker.

Whirlpool reported a rise in sales in the fourth and first quarter - after reporting a decline in sales for the previous four quarters - but missed estimates in both quarters and lowered its earnings forecast for 2017 when reporting first-quarter results on April 24.

Fettig steered the company through the Great Recession and oversaw the acquisition of Italian appliance maker Indesit for $1 billion in 2014 and Chinese appliance maker Hefei Rongshida Sanyo Electric Co Ltd, which it announced it would acquire in late 2013 for $552 million.

Whirlpool has had problems recently with integrating Indesit and has been fighting a trade case against South Korean firms Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and LG Corp. The U.S. government recently determined those firms were selling their washers in the U.S. market at dumping prices.

Keith Snyder, an equity analyst at CFRA Research, said Bitzer was "probably the best pick to take over" at Whirlpool, as he has lead two of the company's four regions, North America and Europe, Middle East and Africa.

"Fettig has the company moving in the right direction and as an insider with years of experience, Bitzer is an excellent choice," Snyder said.

Whirlpool's stock is up 7 percent year to date.

In after-market trading, the company's shares were trading up 0.7 percent from their official closing price, at $196.

Reporting By Nick Carey; Editing by Sandra Maler and Chris Reese

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