Shares of agricultural equipment maker Deere (DE) - Get Report could see an uptick in the near future as analysts say commodity prices, especially corn, could be on the rise and buoy the iconic American company's shares.
Deere's shares are essentially a proxy for corn prices in the commodities market, according to UBS analysts, and expectations of an upcoming improvement in corn figures should boost shares of the equipment maker near June highs.
In a research note Tuesday, UBS said, "We expect higher corn prices to improve the sentiment on Deere stock." The firm set a price target of $94 a share, up from $82, which is where the stock is trading Tuesday.
The stock has traded at a multiple of 24 times earnings in the past, as recently as 2002, and at 24 times earnings, gets a target of $94 a share.
The company has had an uneven financial performance, recently trimming its 2016 fiscal year forecast to $1.2 billion from its previous estimate of $1.3 billion. Its fiscal second quarter results did beat forecasts, coming in at $1.56 a share, versus estimates of $1.48.
Deere is more heavily exposed to the farm economy than is the case with rivals such as Caterpillar (CAT) - Get Report and Agco (AGCO) - Get Report , with 80% of Deere sales coming from agricultural equipment rather than the heavier tilt toward construction equipment that its rivals have. More than 50% of sales come via the North American farm equipment base.
"We think the risk to corn prices is to the upside on weather concerns," UBS said in its note. Recent weather patterns, featuring hot, dry conditions, figure to reduce the yield on the season's corn crop, which would in turn lift prices. Prices in the commodity futures markets have corn prices at $4.06 a bushel for July delivery, and just a little more upside in those prices would benefit Deere.
Shares of Deere have underperformed significantly the last five years, analysts say, suggesting the stock has been under-owned during that period with some attractive long term valuation. Deere management has focused on lowering costs, boosting output and aiding inventory, leaving it advantageously positioned with crop prices finally rebound.
Though management hasn't emphasized share repurchases as much as it has acquisition opportunities and dividends, its share count has declined dramatically in recent years, meaning that EPS potential is amplified.
"If corn prices rally, we expect more positive sentiment on the stock," UBS said in Tuesday's research note.