Interpreting the numbers and picking a winner isn't difficult when looking at industrial agricultural stocks CNH Industrial (CNHI) - Get Report  and Deere (DE) - Get Report , notwithstanding their 4% to 6% year-to-date gains.

Deere clearly stands apart, with solid fundamentals, an attractive outlook and safe dividends. The stock is poised to beat the broader market and deliver sustained growth.

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But CNH Industrial, led by under-performing Chief Executive Richard Tobin, is at a ceiling and fully valued.

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What is propelling Deere is a durable business model, healthy prospects and a number of initiatives reducing un-required auxiliary elements.

CNH Industrial, on the other hand, has fallen woefully short of its own targets. Formed in 2013, CNH Industrial had forecast revenue from industrial activities, not including financial sales, of $35 billion, an operating margin from industrial activities of 8%, and net income of $1.8 billion all by this year.

But CNH Industrial now expects to fall more than $10 billion short of its revenue target, have an operating margin of 5.2% to 5.8%, and posted net income of $253 million last year. The estimated 31% earnings-per-share growth this year can't propel CNH Industrial to net income of $1.8 billion.

With a return on assets of just 1.85% and a negative return on equity, the stock doesn't offer dividends, either.

Add to that a debt pile of more than $26 billion, and CNH Industrial, which has a market value of $9.7 billion, is looking down a rabbit hole.

The analyst consensus one-year price target for CNH Industrial of $6.22 represents a 13% downside.

Thankfully, Deere is a bright spot in this challenging climate and should be a growth stock winner this year and beyond.

Deere has beaten analysts' expectations four quarters in a row. If that wasn't enough, Deere has also increased its full-year net income outlook by 12.5% to $1.35 billion.

Aggressive cost control measures kept Deere in the black. The company's management is prepping for another $500 million in cost cuts by 2018, to effectively address weak agri-markets.

And with an ROE of 20%-plus, Deere's management efficiency overwhelms rivals such as Caterpillar (ROE of 5.46%) and AGCO (ROE of 6.07%).

Citigroup has raised its 2016 and 2017 estimates for Deere, while BMO analysts say that the company has reduced its share count substantially and carries powerful EPS growth levers.

Finally, Deere's nearly 3% dividend yield and low 56.3% payout ratio with six years of dividend growth at a time when agri-markets have been tumultuous, confirms that investors should buy and hold the stock.


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This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.