Deere & Co. (NYSE: DE) reported fiscal fourth-quarter 2019 results before markets opened Wednesday morning. For the quarter, the farm and heavy equipment maker posted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $2.27 on revenues of $9.9 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company reported EPS of $2.42 on revenues of $9.42 billion. Fourth-quarter results compare to consensus estimates for EPS of $2.13 and $8.53 billion in revenues.
For the full fiscal year, Deere reported $39.26 billion in revenues and EPS of $9.94 compared with revenues of $37.36 billion and EPS of $9.39 in 2018. Analysts had been looking for EPS of $9.92 and revenues of $34.64 billion.
So far, so good. The outlook, however, was disappointing. For the 2019 fiscal year, net income totaled $3.25 billion, up from $2.37 billion last year. The company forecast net income for its 2020 fiscal year in a range of $2.7 to $3.1 billion. Deere expects sales in its agriculture and turf segment to decline by 5% to 10% in 2020 while sales in the construction and forestry segment are estimated to drop by 10% to 15%.
CEO John May commented:
Lingering trade tensions coupled with a year of difficult growing and harvesting conditions have caused many farmers to become cautious about making major investments in new equipment. Additionally, financial services results have come under pressure due to operating-lease losses. At the same time, general economic conditions have remained favorable. This has supported demand for smaller equipment and led to solid results for Deere’s construction and forestry business, which had a record year for sales and operating profit.
Deere met its revised forecast for full-year equipment sales of up 4% year over year. Deere’s original projection called for growth of 7% year over year. The company’s net sales also met the company’s forecast for a 5% year-over-year increase in 2019, also down from an original projection of 7%.
For the full 2020 fiscal year, analysts had forecast EPS of $11.01 on sales of $35.56 billion. The company did not provide a forecast for its first fiscal quarter, but analysts are looking for EPS of $1.75 and sales of $7.02 billion.
The construction and forestry segment posted full-year sales of $11.22 billion, a boost of 10% compared with 2018 results. Of that increase, about 4% is down to two additional months of Wirtgen sales. Excluding Wirtgen, full-year results improved due to higher prices and shipping volume, partially offset by higher production costs and a less-favorable sales mix.
The weak forecast is weighing on shares in Wednesday’s premarket, but investors don’t appear to be fleeing the stock in droves. An expected agreement on trade with China is almost certainly the reason the share price has only been trimmed and not given a full haircut.
Shares of Deere traded down about 2.6% at $172.00 in the premarket Wednesday morning. The stock’s 52-week range is $132.68 to $150.48, and the consensus 12-month price target was $177.00 before the report.