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Update: Deere & Company reports net income of $811 million for third quarter
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Update: Deere & Company reports net income of $811 million for third quarter

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Deere & Co.

John Deere farming equipment on display at a dealership in Petersburg, Illinois.

Deere & Co. reported a net income of $811 million for the fiscal quarter that ended Aug. 2.

That's $2.57 per share for the Moline-based ag and construction equipment manufacturer, compared to net income of $899 million, or $2.81 per share, for the quarter that ended July 28, 2019.

The results topped Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of eight analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $1.30 per share.

Deere shares have climbed 10% since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index has climbed nearly 5%. The stock has risen 26% in the last 12 months.

Deere reported net income of $1.993 billion, or $6.30 per share, for the first nine fiscal months, compared to $2.532 billion, or $7.87 per share, for the same period a year ago.

In May, the company had released a projected fiscal forecast that projected net income between $1.6 billion and $2 billion for the year, a revision from February's pre-coronavirus projection of $2.7 billion and $3.1 billion.

As of Friday, Deere is projecting its yearly net income to fall between the two previous projections and reach about $2.25 billion, which could be impacted by the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

“With outstanding support from our dedicated global workforce and dealer organization, John Deere delivered a strong performance in the third quarter in the face of a serious global pandemic and uncertain market conditions,” said John May, Deere’s CEO and Board Chairman, in a news release.

“As we manage through the pandemic, Deere’s number-one priority continues to be safeguarding the health and well-being of its employees. Thanks to aggressive measures taken early in the crisis, we have had success keeping our employees safe, our factories and parts centers functioning, and our customers served.”

Worldwide net sales and revenues decreased 11%, to $8.925 billion, for the third quarter and declined 12%, to $25.809 billion, for the nine fiscal quarters. Net sales of the equipment operations were $7.859 billion for the quarter and $22.612 billion for nine months, compared with $8.969 billion and $26.182 billion last year.

Company officials provided specifics on some of the steps taken this fiscal year as it embarks on a corporate reorganization, or what Deere has called its Smart Industrial Redesign.

Deere plans to spend $435 million this fiscal year on one-time moves, such as $138 million earlier this year for salaried-employee buyouts and $175 million on salaried-employee reductions. Other cost saving measures include shutting down a small tractor manufacturing facility in China, a $37 million cost for the current fiscal year, and sold a lawnmower subsidiary, SABO Maschinenfabrik, in Europe.

Those moves are projected to save about $260 million on an annual basis moving going forward. Officials have said they would be evaluating operations for months.

“We’ve taken some layers out of the organization. We’ve been able to respond much quicker in this very, very dynamic environment and that’s given us a lot of confidence on the path we’re going on,” said Ryan Campbell, Deere’s chief financial officer.

The other aspect of the smart industrial redesign is a focused approach on its precision ag, or the use of technology by operators in their fields. In other words, Deere is moving to position itself as the Apple of Ag.

But that use of technology, such as having a sprayer turn off between plants instead of running the entire time, cuts overhead expenses for farmers.

Two years of international trade wars seemed to come to an end when the U.S. and China signed off on the first phase of a new trade deal in January, but the coronavirus leveled economic blows to both countries. China has increased purchases of American-made goods, such as crops, as promised in the deal, but still has a ways to go to meet goals.

Cory Reed, president of Deere’s agriculture and turf division for production and precision ag, said nearly all of the company’s advanced precision features saw higher take rates by customers than previous years.

That demonstrates “customers’ willingness for sustained investment in technology in the face of uncertain market conditions, specifically we see the significant levels of investment in solutions that have the highest demonstrable impact on customer economics,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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