How Deere Beat Estimates and Doubled Profit Guidance

Paul Ausick

Deere & Co. (NYSE: DE) reported second-quarter fiscal 2017 results before markets opened Friday. The farm and heavy equipment maker posted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $2.49 on revenues of $8.29 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company reported adjusted EPS of $1.56 on revenues of $7.88 billion. Second-quarter results also compare to consensus estimates for EPS of $1.68 and $7.31 billion in revenues.

Year over year, quarterly net sales in the worldwide equipment operations group rose 2% overall, including a decline of 5%  in the United States and Canada offset by an increase of 14% elsewhere, with no material effect from currency exchange rates.

Operating profit in the equipment group rose from $688 million in the year-ago quarter to $1.11 billion, driven primarily by price realizations, a favorable sales mix, positive exchange rate effects and higher shipment volumes and partially offset by higher warranty costs. Net income rose from $393 million a year ago to $694 million.

For the fiscal year 2017, Deere now expects equipment sales to increase by about 9% and third-quarter sales to rise by about 18%. The full-year estimate is more than double the company’s 4% estimate for growth made when it reported first-quarter results in February. Net sales and revenues are projected to increase about 9% for fiscal 2017 with net income attributable to Deere of about $2 billion.

Analysts have forecast fiscal year sales of $24.32 billion, about 5% higher than sales of $23.39 billion in 2016. For the year analysts expect EPS of $4.94 compared with $4.81 last year.

For the third quarter, analysts are looking for EPS of $1.53 and revenues of $6.3 billion. Based on what Deere said this morning about its own third-quarter estimates, expect these numbers to rise in the next few days.

CEO Samuel R. Allen said:

We are seeing modestly higher overall demand for our products, with farm machinery sales in South America experiencing a strong recovery. Deere’s performance also reflects the sound execution of our operating plans, the strength of a broad product portfolio, and the impact of our actions to develop a more agile cost structure. As a result, we have raised our forecast and are now calling for significantly higher earnings for the full year.

Deere beat last year’s quarterly EPS by 60% and the consensus estimate by 48%. That’s the fifth consecutive quarter the company has beaten the consensus. Deere was able to manage expectations pretty well through that period, but the rosy outlook the company gave today is likely to lead analysts to recalibrate their views on the company and set targets that may be tougher to meet.

Shares of Deere traded up 5.5% at $118.81 in the premarket Friday morning, a new 52-week high if it holds after the bell. The 52-week range is $76.73 to $114.96. The consensus 12-month price target was $112.72 before the report.