Deere & Co. shares rose more than 4% on Wednesday after the company’s quarterly earnings easily beat estimates and it forecast continued growth in demand for farm equipment next year.
For the fourth quarter, the world’s largest farm-equipment manufacturer on Friday reported worldwide net sales increased 23% to $8.018 billion, driven by a 22% jump in sales in its agriculture and turf division and 379% jump in its construction and forestry business.
Deere earned $510.3 million, or $1.57 per share, compared with $285.3 million, or 90 cents per share, for the same quarter a year ago, a 79% increase.
It was Deere’s third consecutive quarter of earnings increases and the fifth-best year for sales and earnings in its 180-year history. Analysts had expected earnings of $1.47 per share and sales of $6.99 billion.
“We saw higher overall demand for our products with farm machinery sales in South America making especially strong gains and construction equipment sales rising sharply,” CEO Samuel Allen said in a news release. “At the same time, the company realized continued benefits from its broad product portfolio and agile cost structure.”
“As a result, Deere has remained well-positioned to serve present customers while making investments aimed at driving growth and attracting additional customers in the future,” he added.
Deere suffered some lean years for equipment sales as low crop prices left farmers with less cash to spend on machinery. But now as CNBC reports, farmers are “buying equipment again to replenish aging fleet and large agriculture new equipment inventories are at near multi-decade lows.”
“What you’re seeing right now is replacement of equipment, especially large equipment,” Deere spokesman Ken Golden told the Waterloo (Iowa) Courier.
“We’re experiencing low commodity prices and yet we’re seeing sales for the year being the fifth-highest in company history,” he said. “Entering into this year, we were projecting to be down 1 percent in equipment sales and we’re up 11 percent.”
For fiscal 2018, Deere expects net sales for fiscal 2018 to jump 19% and earnings to rise to about $2.6 billion.