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Deere & Co shares plowed ahead to a fresh record high on Wednesday after the US tractor maker forecast strong sales and earnings for the coming fiscal year as it benefits from the rebound in global demand for farming equipment.
The stock climbed as much as 4.9 per cent to a new intraday peak of $146 before trimming its gains to 3.4 per cent as the company also reported fourth quarter results that topped estimates.
The Moline, Illinois-based company is forecasting net sales to increase about 19 per cent for the upcoming fiscal 2018 year – translating to sales of $35.4bn – and earnings to rise by about a fifth to $2.6bn. Both figures far exceeded consensus expectations for sales of $27.9bn and net income of $2.29bn, according to Factset.
“Deere’s experiencing strong order activity in early order programs for seasonal products and order book for tractors which are supportive of the outlook,” said the company.
The improved outlook comes on the heels of a strong fiscal 2017 year for Deere. Following an annus horribilis in 2016 — when it was forced to repeatedly cut its sales and profit forecasts after weak crop prices prompted farmers to put off purchasing new equipment or buy used machines instead — the company had its fifth best year in history this year.
For the three months to end of October, sales rose by nearly a quarter to $8bn, and helped propel total annual sales up 12 per cent to $29.7bn. Net income during the period jumped 79 per cent to $510m and ended the fiscal year up 42 per cent at $2.16bn as the company reaped in the benefits of an aggressive cost cutting drive.
The gains were driven by sales of agricultural equipment. Sales at its all important agriculture and turf division, which accounts for nearly 70 per cent of total group revenue, was up 22 per cent for the quarter at $5.4bn and 9 per cent for the year at $20.2bn as higher shipment volume was further boosted by currency tailwinds.
Although it is best known for its green and yellow tractors, Deere has been looking to lessen its dependence on the agricultural sector. As part of its effort to boost its presence in the construction sector, it acquired Wirtgen, a privately-held German manufacturer of road construction equipment, for $5.2bn earlier this summer.
Its fast growing construction and forestry division reported sales of $1.6bn for the quarter and $5.7bn for the year. Deere said the Wirtgen acquisition, which is expected to close in December, will increase the unit’s sales by 54 per cent for the fiscal 2018 year.
Including Wednesday’s gains, Deere shares are up more than 56 per cent over the past 12 months.