Toro Cuts Outlook but Stock Jumps (Update)

Toro reports better-than-expected profits despite a steep falloff from a year ago -- and cuts its guidance -- but the company's shares leap higher.
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Updated from 12:07 p.m. EDT

Though golf courses and suburbs haven't exactly been growth industries of late, lawnmower maker

Toro

(TTC) - Get Report

turned in better-than-expected quarterly results Thursday, despite a bottom line that plunged 41% since last year and a curtailed earnings forecast for the rest of the year.

Bucking the broader market's downward move, Toro shares ended Thursday's session up sharply, closing at $31.40, up $3.41, or 11.6%, on nearly triple the daily average volume.

The company earned about $37 million, or $1.00 a share, in its fiscal second quarter, 18 cents a share above the consensus analyst estimate of 90 cents a share, according to Thomson Financial.

Still, Toro's second-quarter profit tumbled from the $62.8 million it earned a year ago. Revenue, too, fell sharply, coming in at about $500 million, $7 million below analysts' expectations and 22% below the year-earlier period.

The company noted that during the first six months of its fiscal 2009, it took a charge of about $2 million to pay for the cost of layoffs, or what the company calls "workforce adjustments."

Looking ahead, the Bloomington, Minn., company was not optimistic -- in the near term, at least -- despite a stock market that has fed recently off any signs at all that the economy may be turning around. "While there are forecasts of the economic environment improving by the end of 2009," Toro's chairman and chief executive, Michael J. Hoffman, said in a statement, "we expect that would have little impact on our fiscal year, which ends in October."

The company went on to cut its top- and bottom-line targets for the rest of the year. Full-year revenue will likely shrink by about 18% to $1.48 billion from 2008, Toro now believes, while net earnings will come in at about $1.60 to $1.80 a share. The company's earlier guidance had been for a 15% drop in revenue with an EPS range between $1.75 and $2. Analysts were looking for EPS of $1.64 on revenue of $1.54 billion.

Mower rival

Deere

(DE) - Get Report

announced a similar decline in business Wednesday, and also reduced its outlook, based in no small part on weak lawnmower sales.

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