Deere & Co. reported better-than-expected quarterly results on Friday but its shares fell as it slashed its profit guidance for the year.
For the second quarter, the company’s equipment sales fell 20% to $8.22 billion — compared to Wall Street estimates of $7.69 billion — with farm equipment (down 18% to $5.97 billion) holding up better than construction and forestry (down 25% to $2.26 billion) amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Net income fell 41% to $666 million, or $2.11 per share, but analysts had been expecting earnings of $1.62 per share.
“Responding to [customer] demand in the face of the pandemic has been a challenge as a result of various regulatory, economic, and other barriers that have affected production facilities and the supply chain,” Deere said in a news release.
“Leveraging digital tools and connected-support abilities has allowed our dealers to remotely service customer machines and maintain appropriate social distancing protocols,” the company noted.
In March, Deere, citing the pandemic, withdrew its earlier guidance, which called for about $2.9 billion in net income for fiscal year 2020. On Friday, it predicted about $1.8 billion of net income, down almost 45% from the $3.2 billion earned in fiscal year 2019.
The company’s shares dropped 1.5% to $140.60 in trading Friday.
But Deere also said it expects farm and turf equipment sales to fall between 10% and 15% this year — better at the midpoint than the 14% drop estimated by analysts.
“Deere noted signs of stabilization [in farm equipment sales] despite the weak farm sentiment,” said Jefferies analyst Stephen Volkmann, adding that the fiscal 2020 North American sales outlook of a decline of 10% was “surprisingly benign.”
Reuters noted that “Deere’s fresh forecast comes more than a month after President Donald Trump announced a $19 billion relief program to help U.S. farmers cope with the impact of the health crisis. The company’s sales were likely to benefit from the additional liquidity, analysts have said.”
Deere’s construction equipment sales in North America are expected to decline by 20% to 30% for the year.