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Toro's 4Q profit soars but forecast disappoints

The Associated Press

NEWS: The Toro Co. reported Thursday that its fourth-quarter net income soared with help from higher prices, lower taxes and internal operating improvements. But the landscaping, maintenance and irrigation equipment maker gave a weak profit forecast for the year and its shares fell in trading.

DETAILS: The company's fourth quarter last year was unusually weak due to soft pre-season demand for its snow products, which helped boost its gains this year. Toro said that nearly all of its product lines contributed to its sales growth this year and that its productivity efforts helped expand its gross margins.

NUMBERS: Net income grew to $5 million, or 8 cents per share, for the period that ended in October from $251,000, or flat on a per share basis, last year. Revenue increased nearly 13 percent to $382.4 million.

FUTURE: Toro said that it is "mindful" of mild expectations for world-wide economic environments in 2014, as well as the challenges nature can create for its businesses. But it remains "cautiously optimistic" about its prospects for the year, given increasing golf course development and improving housing and construction conditions.

The company expects to earn $2.85 to $2.90 per share for the year, but analysts polled by FactSet were anticipating $2.91 per share. It expects its revenue will be up 4 to 5 percent over the prior year, which based on its 2013 revenue of $2.04 billion, suggests a forecast of $2.12 billion to $2.14 billion.

For the first quarter, the company expects to earn about 35 cents per share.

Toro also said Thursday that its board has declared a quarterly dividend of 20 cents per share, up from its most recent dividend of 14 cents per share. The new dividend is payable on Jan. 15 to shareholders of record as of Dec. 30.

STOCK: Shares of the Bloomington, Minn.-based company fell 98 cents, nearly 2 percent, to $59.25 by midday, outpacing a broader market dip. Its stock price was up 40 percent for 2013 as of Wednesday's close.