Deere & Co. (DE - Get Report) posted weaker-than-expected second quarter earnings Friday, and lowered its full-year profit outlook, as "softening" agricultural market conditions, and reduced export market access, clouded its near-term forecasts.
Deere said earnings for the three months ending on April 28, the company's fiscal second quarter, came in at $3.52 per share, up 12.1% from last year's adjusted total but 9 cents shy of the consensus Street forecast. Group revenues, Deere said, rose 5% to $10.3 billion, just ahead of the $10.12 total forecast by analysts that cover the group.
Looking into the 2019 fiscal year, Deere said it sees 2019 net income now coming in at $3.3 billion, down from a prior forecast of $3.6 billion, on a net equipment sales increase of around 5%, down from the 7% gain it had predicted in November.
"Ongoing concerns about export-market access, near-term demand for commodities such as soybeans, and a delayed planting season in much of North America are causing farmers to become much more cautious about making major purchases," said CEO Sam Allen. "At the same time, overall economic conditions remain positive, a fact that along with a growing customer base has contributed to strong results from our construction and forestry business."
"Although the long-term fundamentals for our businesses remain favorable, softening conditions in the agricultural sector have led Deere to adopt a more cautious financial outlook for the year," he added. "The lower forecast is partly a result of actions we are taking to prudently manage field inventories, which will cause production levels to be below retail sales in the second half of the year."
Deere shares 6.36% in the opening minutes of trading Friday following the earnings release to change hands at $136.71 each, a move that would leave the stock with a year-to-date decline of around 8%.
Net sales in the group's agricultural division rose 3.3% to $7.282 billion, Deere said, and are expected to be flat or 5% higher in the U.S. and Canada for the whole of the 2019 fiscal year.
Earlier this week, soybean futures fell to a 10-year low following Beijing's decision to retaliate on U.S. tariffs on China-made goods with a 25% levy on some U.S. imports., with further downward pressure coming from a U.S. Department of Agriculture report that forecast bigger-than-expected domestic stockpiles as China retreats from buying American crops.