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Maker of white goods upbeat

ELECTROLUX, the home appliances maker, announced an unexpected first-quarter core profit yesterday, and said good cash flow would help it ride out the economic storm.

Electrolux said demand for appliances would continue to fall this year but said the bottom of the market in the United States may be in sight.

"What we have seen of the first quarter in the US is that the slope on the downward curve is leveling off a bit," Chief Executive Hans Straberg said.

The company has seen 11 consecutive quarters of weakening demand in North America.

"It's not that it's over now, but it seems that we can see the bottom," Straberg said.

The white goods maker, second only to US rival Whirlpool in volume but bigger in terms of market capitalization, said tough cost-cutting measures had helped create a leaner company well-positioned for any market turnaround.

Straberg doused expectations by some that Electrolux could be in need of capital later this year should demand remain weak, saying Electrolux had absolutely no need for a share issue thanks to its good cash flow and liquidity.

On Tuesday, Whirlpool announced a quarterly dividend of 43 US cents per share. In February, Electrolux's board proposed no dividend would be paid for 2008.

Its profit before interest and tax swung to 38 million Swedish crowns (US$4.36 million) from a 39 million Swedish crowns loss a year ago.


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