Deere and Company (DE) has been weathering one of the toughest slumps in agricultural prices since the Great Depression, analysts say, but its perseverance in protecting profit margins has helped it continue to plow ahead through three challenging years.
Among the world’s largest makers of agricultural, construction and forest machinery, diesel engines and drivetrains used in heavy equipment, as well as lawn-care gear, DE is reporting Q4 and full-year earnings results ahead of the market’s open Wednesday.
In the previous quarter, DE soundly outstripped Wall Street’s expectations despite double-digit declines in net sales and revenue, as the global markets for farm and construction equipment continued to drag overall results. Some 70% of its revenue is gleaned from agriculture and turf equipment operations, according to the company; its second-largest division is construction and forestry machinery.
“John Deere’s performance in the third quarter reflected the continuing impact of the global farm recession as well as difficult conditions in construction equipment markets,” Chief Executive Samuel Allen said in the Q3 earnings release. “All of Deere’s businesses remained profitable with the agriculture and turf division reporting higher operating profit than last year.
“As in past quarters, our results benefited from the sound execution of our operating plans, the impact of a broad product portfolio, and our success keeping a tight rein on costs and assets,” he added.
Analysts say they want to know how well those strategies worked in Q4. Allen said in Q3 that DE was “continuing to focus on ways to make our operations more efficient and achieve further structural cost reductions.”
Analysts say they’re also looking for an update on DE’s efforts to acquire Precision Planting, a maker of high-speed planting equipment. They’ll also be interested in any forecasts DE might give for Q1 and the next fiscal year, as well as company executives’ thoughts on how a ramping up U. S. infrastructure construction might impact its business.
At Thomson Reuters, analysts are forecasting, on average, earnings of $0.40 a share, representing a 63% drop from the year-ago profit of $1.08 per share. Revenue also is projected to slip roughly 8% to $5.38 billion from $5.86 billion last year.
DE has a long track record of outpacing Wall Street’s expectations, having done so for 15 straight quarters, and mostly by double-digit percentages. In the most recent quarter, DE beat projections by more than 64%, enough to allow the company to up its full-year guidance at the time.
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