Uncertainty Worked in Deere's Favor for Q3, but What About Q4?

Deere & Co. (NYSE: DE) reported third-quarter fiscal 2020 results before markets opened Friday. The farm and heavy equipment maker posted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $2.57 on revenues of $8.9 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company reported EPS of $2.81 on revenues of $10.0 billion. Third-quarter results also compare to consensus estimates for EPS of $1.26 and $6.7 billion in revenues.

Net income for the company fell by 10% year over year to $811 million and is down 21% for the fiscal year to date. The bright spot has been the agriculture and turf segment, where net income is up 54% year over year to $942 million, due primarily to better price realizations and lower selling, general and administrative costs. Headwinds included currency exchange effects, lower shipment volumes and sales mix, and impairments and closing costs.

Deere’s construction and forestry segment posted a drop of 46% in net income, from $378 million last year to $205 million in the third quarter. Lower shipment volume and sales mix get the blame.

The company has laid off more than 450 production workers since last October and has made several buyout offers to salaried employees, the most recent in late June.

Deere now forecasts full fiscal year net income of around $2.25 billion, noting that “many uncertainties remain regarding the effects of the global pandemic that could negatively affect the company’s results and financial position in the future.”

The company’s initial forecast for 2020, made last November, called for net income in a range of $2.7 billion to $3.1 billion. Deere later revised that to a range of $1.6 billion to $2.0 billion before lifting the estimate Friday morning. In the first three quarters of the year, Deere’s net income totals $2.0 billion.

Looking at market conditions for the remainder of the year, Deere said it expects agriculture and turf sales to slip by 10% year over year, including a 2% currency translation effect. North American and European sales are seen down 5% to 10%, while South American sales are expected to be down by 10% to 15% and sales in Asia are forecast to be down “slightly.”

In the construction and forestry division, sales are forecast to drop by 25% year over year, including a 1% currency translation effect. The company attributes the drop to “market uncertainty as a result of COVID-19 as well as efforts to bring down field inventory levels.” North American sales of construction equipment are expected to fall by 20% and global forestry equipment sales are forecast to fall 20% to 25% year over year, due to weaker demand in North America and Russia.

Analysts are looking for fiscal fourth-quarter EPS of $1.30 on sales of $6.9 billion. For the full year, the consensus estimate for EPS is $6.33 and revenue is estimated at $28.6 billion.

Shortly after the results were announced, Deere’s shares added about 4.5%, but at last look that had been cut by around half to 2.8%, with shares trading at $196.48 in Friday’s premarket. If that holds, it will set a new 52-week high, over the current range of $106.14 to $195.85. The consensus price target on the stock is $184.50. Deere’s dividend yield is 1.59%.

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