John Deere Earnings Soar 62% on Surging Equipment Sales

Resurgent farm and construction equipment sales pushed Deere & Co.'s (DE)  third-quarter profits up 62 percent from a year earlier, enabling the manufacturer to handily beat Wall Street's expectations.

Net income reported Tuesday was $401.4 million, or $1.58 per share, up from $247.5 million, or $1.02 per share, in the same period of 2003.

The earnings easily exceeded the $1.50-a-share consensus estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call.

Revenue was $5.4 billion, a 23 percent increase from $4.4 billion a year earlier and nearly half a billion dollars higher than analysts had forecast.

The results reflect a continuing rebound in U.S. agriculture equipment purchasing, helped by favorable crop prices and underscoring farmers' confidence. Deere reported impressive gains of 34 percent in agricultural equipment sales and 40 percent in construction and forestry sales.

Chairman and chief executive Robert Lane said measures taken to improve the company's business operations also contributed to the strong quarter.

"Our intense focus on asset management, cost control and responsive order fulfillment is helping Deere successfully manage the current high level of demand for our equipment," he said.

For the first nine months, earnings were $1.05 billion, or $4.14 per share, up 83 percent from $572.4 million, or $2.37 per share, in 2003. Revenues rose to $14.78 billion compared with $11.6 billion, a 27 percent increase.

Deere shares rose $2.09, or 3.4 percent, to $63.11 on the New York Stock Exchange (search).