Tags: Deere | earnings | profit | drought

Deere Cuts Outlook on Drought, Slowing Economic Growth

Wednesday, 15 Aug 2012 07:40 AM

A slowing global economy and the effects of a prolonged U.S. drought caught up to Deere & Co. in its fiscal third quarter, as its net income rose 11 percent but fell well short of Wall Street's expectations.

Deere cut its revenue prediction for the year, and investors reacted swiftly. Shares dropped more than 6 percent.

The ongoing drought in the Midwest, a stronger dollar and costs to introduce a slew of new products hurt the world's largest producer of agricultural equipment.

The Moline, Ill., company, said Wednesday that it earned $788 million, or $1.98 per share for the quarter ended July 31, compared with $712.3 million, or $1.69 per share for the same period last year. Analysts expected $2.31 per share in the most recent quarter, according to FactSet.

Revenue rose 15 percent to $9.59 billion, missing analysts' average prediction of $9.61 billion.

Sales of tractors and other farm equipment, by far its biggest segment, rose 14 percent to $7.27 billion. Deere also makes a wide range of construction and forestry equipment, including backhoes and excavators. That segment's sales jumped 23 percent to $1.66 billion.

While those two segments improved markedly from a year ago, growth has slowed. In last year's third-quarter, sales of agricultural and turf equipment rose 22 percent and construction and forestry equipment revenue leaped 34 percent.

Sales from Deere's financial services segment, where it offers crop insurance, loans and other aid, rose 3 percent to $565 million.

Since it touches many important markets, it provides a unique look into the state of the U.S. and global economies. Deere's earnings have held up better in recent quarters than other U.S. companies that are considered economic bellwethers, such as UPS and 3M.

Besides some of its red-hot international markets cooling down and a serious lack of rain shrinking crop yields in the U.S., Deere says the introduction of a slew of new products reduced the efficiency of its production lines.

It expects those factors to continue to hurt its results in the near term. Deere sees net income of $3.1 billion for the year ending in October, down from $3.35 billion forecast three months ago. Analysts estimate about $3.4 billion.

In morning trading, Deere shares fell $5.06, or 6.3 percent, to $75.07.

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