NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Deere (DE) - Get Report shares gained more than 4% Monday and notched a new 52-week high.

Helping lift the stock Monday was, apparently, an upgrade from sell-side analyst Robert Wertheimer, of Morgan Stanley. He increased his rating on Deere shares to overweight from equal-weight, and his price target to $64 from $48, two days before the Moline, Illinois, farm-equipment maker is scheduled to report quarterly earnings.

Wertheimer attributed his Deere bullishness to what he sees as growing demand for farm equipment in the U.S. after a prolonged slump. He said that farmers are now adding acreage, "a secular phenomenon that is widely underestimated."

The huge corporate growers that dominate U.S. agriculture have added so much land to their already humongous domains, doubling their acreage over the last ten years, that these companies will need to acquire some 6,000 tractors annually to service it all, Wertheimer argued, citing "proprietary analysis" of the industry.

Sell Deere!: Against the Grain

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The analyst added that a cyclical upswing may be more robust than many observers believe, especially in corn prices next year and in Brazil's agricultural business.

In late-morning trading Monday, Deere shares were changing hands at $52.85, up $2.02, or 4%. Early in the session the stock touched $53.59, marking a new 52-week high. Volume reached nearly 3 million shares; the average daily turnover is 5.6 million.

For Deere's quarterly results, set for release the day before Thanksgiving, Wall Street is expecting earnings of 3 cents a share on revenue of $4.44 billion. Deere's non-standard fiscal year means that it's the last heavy-equipment maker to go public with its third-period numbers.

Other companies in the sector, from mining-machinery assemblers like

Bucyrus

(BUCY)

to the global diversified bellwether

Caterpillar

(CAT) - Get Report

, have generally surpassed analyst estimates with their latest results, even while year-over-year comparisons remain rough -- especially among those manufacturers who build machinery for the collapsed construction industry.

-- Written by Scott Eden in New York

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Scott Eden has covered business -- both large and small -- for more than a decade. Prior to joining TheStreet.com, he worked as a features reporter for Dealmaker and Trader Monthly magazines. Before that, he wrote for the Chicago Reader, that city's weekly paper. Early in his career, he was a staff reporter at the Dow Jones News Service. His reporting has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Men's Journal, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, and the Believer magazine, among other publications. He's also the author of Touchdown Jesus (Simon & Schuster, 2005), a nonfiction book about Notre Dame football fans and the business and politics of big-time college sports. He has degrees from Notre Dame and Washington University in St. Louis.