Deere Beats Estimates; Lowers Guidance
Heavy equipment and agricultural machinery manufacturer Deere & Co. (NYSE: DE – $83.44) reported weakening demand for its products for the third quarter of fiscal 2015. Lower commodity prices continue to weigh on farm incomes, which in turn are encouraging farmers to maintain a tight grip on spending. Given these unfavorable conditions, demand for the company’s machines plummeted over the year-earlier period. Total revenue declined 20% to $7.6 billion. The Street had DE pegged for a top line of $7.2 billion. Farm and turf equipment sales, which account for more than two-thirds of total revenue, fell 24% to $5.31 billion. Sales in the construction and forestry segment decreased by 13% to $1.53 billion. Net income slid to $511.6 million, or $1.53 per share from $2.33 per share a year earlier, but nine cents above consensus estimates. Price hikes, along with lower SG&A and production costs, helped mitigate the unfavorable effects of depressed volumes. To make matters worse, management said sales will decrease about 21% in fiscal 2015, which is down from guidance given in the previous quarter of a 19% slide. Also, it is looking for circumstances to be especially weak in the fiscal fourth quarter, calling for equipment sales to fall 24%. Moreover, the outlook was softer than Wall Street had anticipated. The shares of Deere tumbled in 8% on the news and those with a position in DE will need to remain patient for an eventual upturn in farm and construction spending.