* Sees slight increase in global demand next year
* North America to offset modest activity elsewhere
* Falling raw material prices to give boost (Adds forecasts, GE acquisition)
By Harriet McLeod and Niklas Pollard
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina/STOCKHOLM, Nov 20 (Reuters) - S weden’s Electrolux said on Thursday it expected a resurgent U.S. economy and cheaper raw materials to slightly boost global demand for home appliances next year.
Electrolux, vying for market leadership with U.S. rival Whirlpool Corp and China’s Haier Electronics Group Co Ltd, also estimated savings of 1 billion Swedish crowns ($135 million) in 2015 from its latest round of cost cuts, including layoffs and plant closures.
Electrolux said the $3.3 billion acquisition of General Electric Co’s appliances business will boost U.S. returns.
In 2015, Electrolux sees North American demand rising 3 to 5 percent, Europe flat to up to 1 percent, and Latin America flat, senior executives said during a capital markets day in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“Latin America is really less about the currencies and more the overall economic climate, particularly in Brazil and Argentina and even Chile slowing down a little bit,” Electrolux Chief Executive Keith McLoughlin said. “We’ve had 12 years of 15 percent compounded growth in appliance demand in Brazil. That’s not sustainable.”
China’s market will be weak in 2015, McLoughlin said, but “there are still well over a billion people who want the same things we do,” he said. Southeast Asian demand is positive, and Australia’s is flat, he said.
A steady fall in raw material prices in recent months will provide a boost next year for Electrolux and its other brands such as AEG and Zanussi, it said.
The executives said they expect 2015 earnings of about $250 million crowns, helped by cheaper raw materials.
Carbon and steel prices have fallen, but lower oil prices have not reduced plastics prices due to oil refinery problems, McLoughlin said.
Electrolux is also banking on a recent $3.3 billion acquisition of GE’s appliances business to boost returns from the U.S. market.
With GE, Electrolux serves over 90 percent of the U.S. market, up from about 65 percent on its own, McLoughlin said. (Reporting by Harriet McLeod in Charlotte, North Carolina and Niklas Pollard and Johannes Hellstrom; Editing by Richard Chang)