Panasonic, Whirlpool fined for price fixing

By Aaron Smith, staff writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The Justice Department said Thursday that Panasonic and Embraco, a Whirlpool subsidiary, are being fined more than $140 million for price fixing refrigerator parts.

Both companies plead guilty to charges of manipulating the prices of refrigerator compressors in the U.S. and elsewhere from 2004 to 2007, according to the Justice Department. Compressors are used to cool refrigerators by controlling gas pressure.

Embraco North America Inc., a Brazil-founded manufacturer of refrigerator compressors, will pay $91.8 million; and the Japanese company Panasonic (PC) will pay $49.1 million. Panasonic is known primarily for its electronic products, but it also manufactures compressors with a worldwide market share of about 13%, the company said.

Whirlpool lowered its financial outlook as a result of the fine. The company said its $91.8 million expense amounts to $1.20 per diluted share for the third quarter. As a result, the company now expects to report earnings of $7.80 to $8.30 per diluted share, down from the prior outlook of $9 to $9.50 per share.

Whirlpool's (WHR, Fortune 500) stock was practically unchanged by the news.

Christine Varney, assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department's antitrust division, said these are the "first charges" in an "ongoing investigation in the worldwide refrigerant compressors market."

Panasonic spokesman Jim Reilly said his company had entered into the plea agreement, "to resolve claims that its household refrigerator compressor business unit engaged in certain anti-competitive activity, regarding price fixing with other compressor manufacturers."

Reilly would not identity the other manufacturers. He added that the fine will not impact the financial outlook for the current fiscal year.

The Justice Department filed the charges through U.S. District Court in Detroit. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,328.96 137.59 0.80%
Nasdaq 4,657.88 19.89 0.43%
S&P 500 2,012.51 10.35 0.52%
Treasuries 1.77 0.05 2.67%
Data as of 2:25pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Yahoo! Inc 43.34 -3.12 -6.71%
Apple Inc 118.13 2.82 2.44%
Bank of America Corp... 15.41 0.21 1.38%
Facebook Inc 76.62 0.38 0.50%
Microsoft Corp 41.68 0.49 1.19%
Data as of 2:13pm ET

Sections

The Wednesday announcement that Don Thompson will retire as CEO of McDonald's leaves just two black CEOs in the elite Dow 30. More

The Wednesday announcement that Don Thompson will retire as CEO of McDonald's leaves just two black CEOs in the elite Dow 30. More

China has new rules for foreign tech firms: become a spy tool and give up your highly-guarded computer source code. More

On demand delivery startup WunWun is expecting its order volume to double by the time they close up shop on Monday. All thanks to a blizzard. More

The IRS said it has carried out thousands of audits of offshore schemes and pursued criminal charges that have resulted in "billions of dollars in criminal fines and restitutions." And it won't stop there. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2015 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2015. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2015 and/or its affiliates.