Deere & Company reported net income of $722 million for the fourth quarter ended November 3, 2019, or $2.27 per share, compared with net income of $785 million, or $2.42 per share, for the quarter ended October 28, 2018. For fiscal 2019, net income attributable to Deere & Company was $3.253 billion, or $10.15 per share, compared with $2.368 billion, or $7.24 per share, in 2018.
Worldwide net sales and revenues increased 5 percent in both the fourth quarter and full year of 2019 to $9.896 billion and $39.258 billion, for the respective periods. Net sales of the equipment operations were $8.703 billion for the quarter and $34.886 billion for the year, compared with respective totals of $8.343 billion and $33.351 billion in 2018.
“John Deere’s performance reflected continued uncertainties in the agricultural sector,” says John C. May, Chief Executive Officer. “Lingering trade tensions coupled with a year of difficult growing and harvesting conditions have caused many farmers to become cautious about making major investments in new equipment. Additionally, financial services results have come under pressure due to operating-lease losses. At the same time, general economic conditions have remained favorable. This has supported demand for smaller equipment and led to solid results for Deere’s construction and forestry business, which had a record year for sales and operating profit.”
Company Outlook & Summary
Net income attributable to Deere & Company for fiscal 2020 is forecast to be in a range of $2.7 billion to $3.1 billion.
“Despite present challenges, the longer-term outlook for our businesses remains healthy and points to a promising future for Deere,” May says. “We are particularly encouraged by the adoption of precision technologies and believe we are well-positioned to be a leader in the delivery of smarter, more efficient and sustainable solutions to our customers. At the same time, we are committed to the successful execution of our strategic plan and have initiated a series of measures to create a leaner organizational structure that can operate with more speed and agility. We’re confident these steps will lead to improved efficiencies and help the company focus its resources and investments on areas that have the greatest impact on performance.”
Net income in the fourth quarter and full-year 2019 was favorably affected by discrete adjustments to the provision for income taxes, including those related to U.S. tax reform legislation (tax reform). The adjustments related to tax reform were $41 million and $68 million for the respective periods. Prior-year results were favorably affected by $37 million in the fourth quarter and unfavorably affected by $705 million for the twelve-month period due to discrete adjustments to the provision for income taxes related to tax reform.
Net income in the fourth quarter and full year of 2019 was favorably affected by discrete adjustments to the provision for income taxes.
Agriculture & Turf
Agriculture & Turf sales increased for the quarter and full year of 2019 due to price realization and higher shipment volumes, partially offset by the unfavorable effects of currency translation. Operating profit decreased for the quarter and year. The quarter’s decline was primarily due to higher production costs, higher selling, administrative, and general expenses, the unfavorable effects of currency exchange and increased research and development expenses. For the year, operating profit decreased largely due to higher productions costs, the unfavorable effects of currency exchange, increased research and development costs, higher selling, administrative, and general expenses, and a less-favorable sales mix, partially offset by higher shipment volumes. Both periods were positively affected by price realization.
Construction & Forestry
Construction & Forestry sales were higher for the quarter and year primarily due to higher shipment volumes and price realization, partially offset by the unfavorable effects of currency translation. The inclusion of Wirtgen’s sales for two additional months in 2019 accounted for about 4 percent of the year’s net sales increase. Wirtgen’s operating profit was $67 million for the quarter and $343 million for the full year, compared with $79 million and $116 million for the corresponding periods of 2018. Excluding Wirtgen, the decline in Construction & Forestry results for the quarter was primarily due to higher production costs, increased selling, administrative, and general expenses, and a less-favorable sales mix, partially offset by higher shipment volumes and price realization. Full-year 2019 results, excluding Wirtgen, moved higher as a result of price realization and higher shipment volumes, partially offset by higher production costs and a less-favorable sales mix.
Market Conditions & Outlook
Agriculture & Turf. Deere’s worldwide sales of agriculture and turf equipment are forecast to decline 5-10% for fiscal-year 2020, including a negative currency-translation effect of 1%. Industry sales of agricultural equipment in the U.S. and Canada are forecast to be down about 5%, driven by lower demand for large equipment. Full-year industry sales in the EU28 member nations are forecast to be approximately flat as are South American industry sales of tractors and combines. Asian sales are forecast to be about the same as the prior year. Industry sales of turf and utility equipment in the U.S. and Canada are expected to be about flat.
Construction & Forestry. Deere’s worldwide sales of construction and forestry equipment are anticipated to be down 10-15% for 2020, with foreign-currency rates having an unfavorable translation effect of 1%. The outlook reflects slowing construction activity as well as the company’s efforts to manage dealer inventory levels. In forestry, global industry sales are expected to be in line with the previous year.
Financial Services. Fiscal-year 2020 net income attributable to Deere & Company for the financial services operations is expected to benefit from lower losses on lease residual values as well as income earned on a higher average portfolio. These items are forecast to be partially offset by a higher provision for credit losses, less-favorable financing spreads, and higher selling and administrative expenses.