Archive for April, 2005

What does the future hold?

April 27, 2005
What does the future hold?
Date April 27, 2005
Section(s) Opinion
To the Editor:

I know in my heart that the prom and teenagers had very good thoughts in their minds when they picked the theme “Land of Enchantment.” But that theme belongs to the state of New Mexico like the theme “Land of Lincoln” belongs to Illinois.

“Land of Enchantment” does not belong to Newton, Iowa.

How many of you teenagers’ parents now work or worked in the past for Maytag?

How many of you teenagers planned to follow in your parent’s footsteps and work for Maytag?

I’m sure most of you know how Wal-Mart has run a lot of business out of Newton.

Also, if you all sat down and think if Maytag closes what will happen to Newton?

Look already or ask your parents how prices have risen at all business. What can we do about it?

Jerry Rouze



Analysts paint grim picture for Maytag’s future

April 26, 2005
Analysts paint grim picture for Maytag’s future
Date April 26, 2005
Section(s) Local News
NEWTON (AP) — Analysts were questioning the viability of Maytag Corp. as the appliance maker’s stock opened Tuesday at its lowest level in more than a decade.

Maytag stock plunged 84 cents Monday to close at $10.05, a drop of 7.7 percent. The stock also fell on Friday after the company reported lower first-quarter sales and earnings. In early trading today, the stock dipped to $9.70 before climbing to $10.10 at 10 a.m.

Laura Champine, an analyst with Morgan Keegan & Co., said the outlook for Maytag‘s plant in Newton is shaky.

“Newton is getting a little toasty,” she said. “I truly think it’s going to shrink or close. I don’t think the (Newton plant) will be a year from now what it is today.”

The plant employs 1,275 people.

Maytag has a large debt and faces increasing competition from foreign companies that have lower costs and domestic companies that operate in lower-cost countries.

Nicholas Heymann, an analyst for Prudential Equity Group, said Maytag‘s “prospects for long-term viability remain extremely dire.”

The comment was included in a research note Monday to investors.

“It’s not hard to imagine that Maytag could be required to enter bankruptcy,” he said.

Karen Lynn, a company spokeswoman, said Maytag is still profitable.

“Although our sales were down, our (first-quarter) market share was up from the fourth quarter,” she said. “This shows that consumers believe in and are buying our products and our brands.”

She said Maytag has received financing from banks from multiyear credit and has a plan to address costs.

Maytag Chairman Ralph Hake said after Friday’s announcement that the company is planning to reorganize its manufacturing operations and that the Newton plant is in jeopardy.

David McGregor, an analyst for Ohio-based Longbow Research, also had a grim assessment of Maytag.

“We believe it may be too late to salvage this company as an independent player in the major appliance business,” he wrote.

McGregor said Maytag‘s assets could be attractive to other companies, particularly foreign appliance manufacturers.

Maytag markets appliances under the Jenn-Air, Amana and Magic Chef brands. It also manufactures Hoover brand floor care products.

What more can Maytag workers do?

April 26, 2005
What more can Maytag workers do?
Date April 26, 2005
Section(s) Opinion
To the Editor:

(Maytag should) just set a date for closing the plant and let us get on with our lives. We’ve lived in gloom and doom for three or more years now, with the threat of this axe hanging over our heads.

At the communication meetings, everyone tells us how good we’re doing, how many improvements we’ve made, about the new RCIs, etc, etc. They show us slides on the overhead about how we’re doing on our core metrics, safety, quality, cost and delivery. Our quality is the highest it’s ever been, our SCR is the lowest it’s ever been, but it has never been enough. It never has been about those items anyway.

This plant has never been the most expensive plant and most of the time we carry the others because of our efficiency. We’re making the same amount of machines now as we were three years ago when we had 2,500 employees. We should be making double what we’re making now especially since we’re all doing the work of two people. I am not overpaid but am paid well. If you think we’re overpaid, just ask (someone who has been hurt as a result of working in the factory. I know a guy who’s) had two work related surgeries in the last 10 years, shoulder and elbow and carpal tunnel. You think our jobs are easy? Just ask the supervisors who were injured this past year trying to run our jobs while we were on strike. One nearly lost his thumb!

(Maytag) will cut (its) nose off to spite (its) face and close this plant just to prove us wrong . (Maytag) just wants to break the union! I will not forget Galesburg and all they gave up, and Maytag still closed the plant anyway! It always seems to come back to the fact that we’re at fault, we’re not doing enough, we’re making too much, we’ve got too many benefits,etc, etc.

I can only speak for myself and the line I work on, the Dependable Care stack line. We are at 100 percent on our schedule attainment. Each day we come in, look at the schedule and then run those models. Each day we complete our scheduled run. The production workers at Maytag are without a doubt, the world’s best appliance production workers! What more can we do? We do not make the business decisions concerning new models, sales, exports, purchasing, etc. ..

Explain to me why the union, the state and Newton should give more? … We won’t give up any more or beg for our jobs!

Douglas Barcus


Maytag plant on the line: Future of Newton production to be reviewed

April 22, 2005
Maytag Plant on the Line: Future of Newton production to be reviewed
Date April 22, 2005
Section(s) Local News

Associated Press Writer


The fate of about 1,500 jobs at Maytag Corp.’s flagship laundry plant in Newton could be in jeopardy unless the company works swiftly to cut costs, company CEO Ralph Hake said this morning.

“We will work with the UAW in Newton and local and state representatives to determine the future of the Newton facility,” Hake said in a conference call with analysts to discuss the company’s first-quarter earnings, which saw net income fall nearly 80 percent from last year due to dwindling sales and rising costs.

Maytag, based in Newton since it was founded in 1893, said it must take “more aggressive steps” to restructure its manufacturing operations and cut costs. Maytag already has made cost-cutting measures in the past year, closing a refrigeration plant in Galesburg, Ill., and slashing its salaried workforce as part of its “One Company” restructuring plan.

“We have dramatically shrunk our volumes and workforce in our highest wage and benefit manufacturing facilities in Newton and North Canton. A lot has been done. It has been painful. It has not been enough,” Hake said.

Unless Newton becomes more competitive with other laundry facilities, Hake said, Maytag will “target its next generation of high efficiency laundry products to be manufactured in a low-cost location before the contract expires in June 2008.”

The plant makes Neptune and Atlantis model washers and the Dependable Care line sold to commercial customers.

Hake said discussions also are under way with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers about cutting costs at the North Canton, Ohio, Hoover vacuum manufacturing plant. The transfer of some production is already planned and further phase-out could occur.

“We expect to keep our contractual commitments for the contract period, which ends in 2008,” Hake said.

Hake had previously said the company would consolidate all vertical washer and dryer production into two dedicated facilities. During today’s call, he said those two facilities will be Herrin, Ill., for vertical-axis washers — subject to successful labor negotiations — and Searcy, Ark., for the companion dryers.

“Our operation plans at Newton and North Canton are not finalized. We expect to work through that in the next months and quarters,” Hake said, adding that the ultimate decision hinges on discussions with union officials.

Maytag‘s conference call this morning followed the release of an earnings report indicating quarterly income fell to $7.7 million, or 10 cents per share, for the three months ending April 2 from $38.7 million, or 49 cents, in first quarter of 2004. Earnings include restructuring charges amounting to about 4 cents per share, the company said.

Maytag‘s earnings — excluding the charges — came in well below the average estimate of 20 cents per share from analysts polled by Thomson Financial.

Sales shrank 4 percent to total $1.17 billion from $1.22 billion a year earlier, just missing the $1.18 billion targeted by Wall Street analysts.

Declining sales of refrigerators and lower average prices for vacuum cleaners drove down appliance sales 3 percent to $1.11 billion, while commercial business dropped 26 percent to $54.7 million amid a continued slump in the vending industry, Maytag said.

Savings from restructuring activities implemented in 2004 only partially offset rising costs, the company said.

Maytag said higher costs — primarily for steel and energy-related items, and higher distribution costs — reduced its profits.

Nonetheless, Hake said Maytag saw improvements in market share in all major appliance categories, signaling the actions the company had taken to improve its sales performance were taking hold.

“We expect further growth from new products scheduled for launch in the first half of 2005,” he said.

Those include the Maytag Neptune 27-inch washer and dryer, the Jenn Air suite of glass-front appliances and the Hoover FloorMate hard floor cleaner.

Maytag Services and Maytag International both generated double-digit revenue growth last quarter, the company added.

Looking ahead, Maytag now sees yearly earnings of 45 cents to 55 cents per share, including about 10 cents worth of restructuring expenses.

That estimate is down sharply from earlier guidance of $1.10 to $1.30 per share.Analysts currently see income of $1.10 per share on $4.77 billion in sales, compared with a profit of 88 cents and $4.72 billion in sales for 2004.

The Maytag report came a day after rival Whirlpool Corp. said first-quarter profit fell 14.9 percent because of higher costs for fuel and raw materials. The maker of Whirlpool and KitchenAid home appliances said net income fell to $86 million, or $1.26 per share, in the January-March period from $101 million, or $1.43 per share, a year ago. Sales increased 6.7 percent to $3.21 billion from $3.01 billion.

Maytag stock took a hit this morning, dropping more than 25 percent to $11.08 in early trading before rebounding slightly to $11.35. More than 7.2 million shares were traded.

What’s wrong with this country?

April 20, 2005
What’s wrong with this country?
Date April 20, 2005
Section(s) Opinion
To the Editor:

This is what’s wrong with this country. When an American company — Maytag — already deeply in debt, borrows $400 million from an Asian company — Samsung — to close two or more plants in North America and boot American workers and their jobs out the door!

Even worse, after these comments were made by Nick Heymann, Prudential analyst, the price of the stock went up!

When did Wall Street start running Maytag? We should take care of the consumers first, by doing what we do best, building the best and most dependable and highest quality laundry products in America and the price of the stock will take care of itself.

I fear it’s too late for this company to turn around. F.L. Maytag is spinning in his grave! I’ve got 16 years invested in Maytag and it seems to be all for naught!

Douglas Barcus


Maytag recalls Hoover vacuums for fire hazard

April 14, 2005
Maytag recalls Hoover vacuums for fire hazard
Date April 14, 2005
Section(s) Business
By Daily News Staff

About 636,000 Hoover self-propelled upright vacuums have been recalled by Maytag and the U.S. Consumer Product Saftey Commission for a potential fire hazard.

Maytag and CPSC announced the voluntary recall today.

The recalled vacuums have defective on-off switches that can overheat the handle and toolholder areas of the product.

Maytag received 249 reports of the handle overheating, causing the handle area to smoke, melt or catch fire, according to a CPSC news release. One person reported a minor burn.

The following model numbers are included in the recall: U6423-900, U6425-900, U6425-950, U6445-900, U6445-960, U6449-900, U6450-900, U6451-900 and U6455-900.

Only Hoover Self-Propelled Upright Vacuum Cleaners manufactured between May 1998 and November 1999 are included in this recall. The recalled products were sold from May 1998 through July 2000 at stores nationwide in the $259 to $279 price range.

The serial numbers for the recalled vacuums range from 0598xxxxxxxx to 1199xxxxxxxx, with the first four digits of the number referring to the month and year when the vacuum was manufactured. For example, 0598 is May 1998.

Customers should stop using the recalled products immediately and contact Maytag to obtain the name and address of the nearest Hoover repair-center to schedule a free repair.

Call Maytag at 1-800-250-6075 between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. local time Monday through Friday or visit the company’s Web site at or for more information.

Maytag stock up on analyst’s comments

April 14, 2005
Maytag stock up on analyst’s comments
Date April 14, 2005
Section(s) Local News
DES MOINES (Dow Jones/AP) — Shares of Maytag Corp. pulled out of a slump Wednesday after Prudential Equity Group said the company may get a loan, and slash its dividend.

“We believe the prospect for securing new cash, possibly structured as a secured loan, may be rising,” analyst Nick Heymann wrote. He said any new loan could help restructure $412 million in debt due in 2006.

Prudential’s Heymann added that the cash will likely be used to close two or more North American plants.

Heymann said he continues to believe the company’s long-term prospects are “extremely dire,” given immense debt and high costs. He repeated his “underweight” rating and $10 target price on the stock.

Shares of Maytag rose to a high of $15.49 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

However, the stock dropped after another analyst, Laura Champine of Morgan Keegan, called any speculation on an infusion of Asian source financing “dubious.”

The stock closed up 62 cents at $14.85. In trading this morning, the stock was off 35 cents at $14.50.

On a 52-week basis, there was a low of $13.30 on March 29 and a high of $31.88 last April 13.

Maytag is scheduled to release first quarter results April 22.

-Local Forecast-

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Maytag to open new West Coast call center for Maytag Services

April 6, 2005
Maytag to open new West Coast call center for Maytag Services
Date April 06, 2005
Section(s) Local News


Maytag plans to open a new West Coast call center aimed at expanding its Maytag Services operations in the western United States.

Spokesperson Karen Lynn said today that Maytag plans to expand its customer contact center operations with a new facility in Yakima, Wash., a community of about 55,000 people in south central Washington. The operation, which published reports from the area indicate could employ as many as 200 Maytag employees, is scheduled to open later this quarter.

Maytag Services, a unit launched in 2003 to repair and service all brands of appliances, has been a successful operation for the corporation, growing by more than 20 percent last year.

“This will allow us to expand into additional markets,” Lynn said.

The new customer contact center may have a slight impact on the Newton call center operation, she said.

“It may have a minimal impact locally,” Lynn said, “but most of it will be with our third party provider.”

In Newton, Maytag uses Randstad Work Solutions employees within its call center to supplement customer service telephone operations.

A report in today’s Yakima Herald-Republic says that the Washington city is offering Maytag economic incentives to locate the call center in the community, including a $55,000 Community Development Block Grant, employee tax credits and training costs.

Maytag proposal could cut Hoover jobs in Ohio

April 1, 2005
Maytag proposal could cut Hoover jobs in Ohio
Date April 01, 2005
Section(s) Business
NORTH CANTON, Ohio (AP) — Maytag Corp. has proposed a business plan that could eliminate about 150 manufacturing jobs at its Hoover plant in this northeast Ohio city.

The proposal was provided Wednesday to officers of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1985. President Jim Repace said it raises concerns about the future of the plant when a labor contract comes up for renewal in 2008.

Hoover Co. began making vacuum cleaners in North Canton in 1908. In 1985, Hoover was acquired by Chicago Pacific Corp., and in 1989, Maytag acquired Chicago Pacific.

Last June, Maytag announced a restructuring plan that called for Hoover to be headquartered in Iowa, eliminating hundreds of salaried jobs. Manufacturing jobs were not involved.

The new proposal would move the Eagle production line, which makes models of the Hoover SteamVac, to one of the company’s factories in El Paso, Texas, or Juarez, Mexico. It seeks concessions in a number of areas, Repace said, although he declined to discuss specifics.

“What they’ve said in there is totally unacceptable,” Repace said.

Maytag spokeswoman Karen Lynn said the plan is part of Maytag‘s efforts to remain competitive in the floor-care market.

Repace and Lynn said the union and company were discussing the plan, but neither would comment on the discussions. Lynn declined to say if Maytag has a timetable for instituting the plan.