(Adds company statement)
ATLANTA Jan 29 Fitch Ratings cut its credit
rating on Whirlpool Corp (WHR.N) to one notch above "junk"
status on Thursday and said the outlook was negative citing an
expected decline in global appliance demand this year.
Whirlpool's shares closed down 12.8 percent to $34.50 on
the New York Stock Exchange. The stock has fallen 58 percent in
the past year.
Standard & Poor's and Moody's Investors Service last week
also cut credit ratings on Whirlpool to one notch above
The lower ratings could make raising funds through the
credit markets more expensive.
"We won't comment on the specific action taken by Fitch,
although it's not terribly surprising given the current state
of the industry," Whirlpool spokeswoman Jill Saletta said in an
Fitch cut its long-term issuer default and senior unsecured
notes ratings to "BBB minus" from "BBB."
It said Whirlpool is likely to face pressure from continued
weakness in the U.S. housing market as well as slowing demand
in international markets such as Latin America. It added that
rising costs were also an issue for the appliance company.
Whirlpool posted lower quarterly earnings in 2008, hurt by
higher materials costs and falling appliance sales in North
America, its biggest market.
(Reporting by Karen Jacobs; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)