Deere & Company DE reported first-quarter fiscal 2019 (ended Jan 28, 2019) adjusted earnings of $1.54 per share, missing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.80 by a margin of 14%. However, the reported figure logged an improvement of 14% from the prior-year quarter’s earnings per share of $1.35. Notably, earnings improved despite the impact of material cost inflation. Further, concerns over tariffs and trade policies seem to be weighing on customer sentiment with farmers becoming cautious and subsequently delaying their equipment purchases.
Including one-time items, the company had incurred a loss of $1.66 in the prior-year quarter. There were no adjustments in the currently reported quarter.
Net sales of equipment operations (which comprise Agriculture and Turf, Construction and Forestry) came in at $6.9 billion, surging 16% year over year. Revenues beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $6.8 billion. Total net sales (including financial services and others) came in at $7.98 billion, up 16% year over year.
Deere & Company Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise
Deere & Company price-consensus-eps-surprise-chart | Deere & Company Quote
Cost of sales in the reported quarter advanced 16% year over year to $5.4 billion. Gross profit in the reported quarter came in at $2.55 billion, surging 16% year over year. Selling, administrative and general expenses increased 8% year over year to $764 million. Equipment operations reported operating profit of $577 million in the quarter under review compared with $419 million in the prior-year quarter.
Apart from the contribution from the Wirtgen acquisition, higher shipment volumes, price realization drove results. However, these gains were partially offset by higher production costs, higher warranty-related expenses and unfavorable effects of foreign currency exchange. Total operating profit (including financial services) increased to $769 million from $636 million reported in the year-ago quarter.
Agriculture & Turf segment’s sales were up 10% year over year to $4.7 billion, primarily driven by higher shipment volumes and price realization offset by unfavorable currency-translation impact and higher warranty-related expenses. Operating profit at the segment declined 10% year over year to $348 million, owing to higher production costs, improved warranty-related expenses, less favorable product mix, and higher research and development expenses. These were partially mitigated by price realization and higher shipment volumes.
Construction & Forestry sales increased 31% year over year to $2.26 billion from the prior-year quarter, aided by the Wirtgen acquisition, higher shipment volumes and price realization, somewhat offset by unfavorable foreign exchange. This segment reported operating profit of $229 million, a significant improvement from the prior-year quarter figure of $32 million. The Wirtgen acquisition contributed operating profit of $14 million in the reported quarter. Apart from it, price realization, partially offset by higher production costs and a less favorable product mix, led to the improvement in profit.
Net revenues at Deere’s Financial Services division totaled $855 million in the reported quarter, up 10% year over year. The segment’s operating profit came in at $192 million, a decrease of 12% year over year.
Deere reported cash and cash equivalents of $3.6 billion at the end of the first quarter of fiscal 2019 compared with $3.9 billion at the end of the prior-year quarter. Cash utilized in operations was $1.7 billion in the first quarter, compared with $1.3 billion in the prior-year quarter. At the end of the reported quarter, long-term borrowing was approximately $28 billion, up from $26 billion at the end of prior-year quarter.
Fiscal 2019 Outlook
Deere maintained its expectation of equipment sales to rise 7% in fiscal 2019 from fiscal 2018. The Wirtgen acquisition will contribute about 1% to net sales for the fiscal. The forecast also factors an unfavorable impact of 2% for foreign-currency translation for fiscal. The company expects cost pressures to likely lessen through fiscal 2019.
For fiscal 2019, Deere anticipates net sales to increase about 7% year over year and projects net income of about $3.6 billion.
For the Agriculture & Turf segment, Deere projects industry sales of agricultural equipment in the United States and Canada to be flat to up 5% in fiscal 2019. This will be propelled by continued demand for both large and small equipment. Industry sales in the EU28 member nations are forecast to be flat as a result of drought conditions in key markets. South American industry sales of tractors and combines are projected to be flat to up 5% aided by strength in Brazil. Sales in Asia are likely to be flat to down slightly. Industry sales of turf and utility equipment in the United States and Canada are expected to be flat to up 5% for 2019.
The Construction & Forestry segment’s results will benefit from the addition of a full year of Wirtgen sales compared with 10 months in fiscal 2018. The two additional months will add about 4% to the division’s sales in the fiscal. The company anticipates generally positive fundamentals and economic growth worldwide. In forestry, global industry sales are expected to be up 5 to 10% mainly driven by higher demand in EU28 countries and Russia.
For the Financial Services segment, results are expected to benefit from a higher average portfolio, partially offset by less-favorable financing spreads, a higher provision for credit losses, and higher selling and administrative expenses.
Share Price Performance
Shares of Deere have lost around 3% over the past year, compared with the industry’s decline of around 5%.
Zacks Rank & Key Picks
Deere currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).
Some better-ranked stocks in the Industrial Products sector are Axon Enterprise, Inc AAXN, Alarm.com Holdings, Inc. ALRM and EnerSys ENS. While Axon and Alarm.com currently flaunt a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), EnerSys carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
Axon has an expected earnings growth rate of 14.5% for 2019. The company’s shares have rallied 105.9% in the past year.
Alarm.com has an expected earnings growth rate of 7.8% for 2019. The stock has climbed 84% in a year’s time.
EnerSys has an expected earnings growth rate of 9.5% for 2019. Its shares have gained 25.5% in the past year.
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