How Deere Beat Estimates and Why It Expects to Keep Rolling

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Deere & Co. (NYSE: DE) reported fiscal fourth-quarter and full-year 2017 results before markets opened Wednesday morning. For the quarter, the farm and heavy equipment maker posted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.57 on revenues of $8.02 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company reported adjusted EPS of $0.90 on revenues of $6.52 billion. Second-quarter results compare to consensus estimates for EPS of $1.47 and $6.99 billion in revenues.

For the year, Deere reported EPS of $6.68 on sales of $29.74 billion compared to fiscal year 2016 EPS of $4.81 and sales of $26.64 billion. Analysts were looking for EPS of $6.50 and sales of $25.71 billion.

Year-over-year quarterly net sales in the worldwide equipment operations group rose more than 25% overall and by nearly 11% for the full year. Net income rose from $285.3 million in the fourth quarter a year ago to $510.36 million. For the full year, net income rose from $1.524 billion to $2.159 billion.

For fiscal year 2018 Deere projects equipment sales to rise by 22%, including a 2% benefit from currency exchange effects. For the first quarter sales are expected to rise by 38% year over year, including a 3% currency exchange benefit. Net sales for the year are forecast to rise by 19% and net income is pegged at $2.6 billion, an increase of about 20%. The company’s construction and forestry equipment sales are forecast to rise 69% in fiscal 2018.

Deere expects its $5.2 billion (including debt) acquisition of Wirtgen to close next month and sales of the Germany-based firm are expected to contribute about $3.1 billion to fiscal 2018 net sales. Wirtgen’s contribution to full-year operating and net profit is expected to be $75 million and $25 million, respectively.

Analysts have forecast first fiscal quarter revenues at $5.41 billion and EPS at $0.93. For the 2018 fiscal year sales are expected to total $28.06 billion and EPS is pegged at $7.24.

CEO Samuel R. Allen said:

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. At the same time, the company realized continued benefits from its broad product portfolio and agile cost structure.

Shares of Deere traded up about 2.3% at $142.47 in the premarket Wednesday morning, above a 52-week range of $98.57 to $140.36. The high was posted Tuesday. The consensus 12-month price target was $133.68 before the report and the high target was $165.00.