As for Wednesday's scheduled news, it's a slow earnings day ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday. Deere (DE) is really the only name brand that's slated to open its books, and Wall Street is looking for a profit of $1.88 a share from the agricultural equipment maker in its fiscal fourth quarter ended in October on revenue of $8.85 billion.
Shares of Moline, Ill.-based Deere are up roughly 11% so far in 2012, though the stock's 52-week high of $89.70 dates back to Feb. 14. Since hitting a low for the past year of $69.51 on June 4, the shares have appreciated nearly 24% based on Tuesday's close at $86.
With a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 10.3X, the stock is still relatively cheap, and at least one prominent investor bought in last quarter as Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) revealed a new stake of 3.98 million Deere shares in a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Deere seven-quarter streak of quarterly profit surprises last time around but still delivered year-over-year revenue growth of 15%. For the fourth quarter, it forecast a 13% increase in company equipment sales and said some "caution" was warranted about the coming months because of uncertain global economic conditions and dryness in several key markets.The sell side is slightly bearish ahead of the print with 11 of the 21 analysts covering the stock at either hold (9) or underperform (2) and the 12-month median price target sitting at $90. Check out TheStreet's quote page for Deere for year-to-date share performance, analyst ratings, earnings estimates and much more. The economic calendar, however, is pretty packed with the Mortgage Bankers Association's weekly mortgage application activity index due at 7 a.m. ET; weekly initial and continuing jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. ET; the final University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for November at 9:55 a.m. ET; leading indicators for October at 10 a.m. ET; and weekly crude inventories data at 10:30 a.m. ET. And finally, shares of Salesforce.com (CRM) were up slightly after the cloud computing company delivered a 35% year-over-year revenue increase in its latest quarter. The San Francisco-based company reported non-GAAP earnings of $49.6 million, or 33 cents a share, for the third quarter on revenue of $788 million. The average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters was for a profit of 32 cents a share on revenue of $776.5 million in the October-ended period. Salesforce.com also forecast non-GAAP earnings of 38 to 40 cents a share in its fiscal fourth quarter on revenue ranging from $825 million to $830 million. Wall Street's current consensus view is for a profit of 40 cents a share on revenue of $829.9 million in the quarter. The stock was last quoted at $148.49, up 1.8%, on extended volume of nearly 500,000, according to Nasdaq.com. The story at Scholastic (SCHL) isn't as favorable as the publishing company lowered its outlook after Tuesday's closing bell. Citing lower curriculum product sales in its Educational Technology and Services business, delays in purchasing decisions because of uncertainty about the federal budget, and lower sales in its Book Club business, New York-based Scholastic now sees earnings from continuing operations of $1.40 to $1.60 a share for its fiscal year ending in May on revenue ranging from $1.8 billion to $1.9 billion. The previous forecast was for earnings of $2.20 to $2.40 a share on revenue of $1.9 billion to $2 billion. The stock was called down nearly 19% after the bell but volume was very light. -- Written by Michael Baron in New York.
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