0 Deere completes record year with fourth quarter earnings of $670 million

Deere completes record year with fourth quarter earnings of $670 million

• Fourth-quarter income rises 46 per cent on 20 per cent increase in sales and revenues; full-year income hits record $2.8 billion.
• Broad-based improvement reflects significantly higher results from all divisions.
• Healthy farm conditions, skilful execution of business plans drive performance.
• Further improvement in sales and profit forecast for 2012.

Net income attributable to Deere & Company was $669.6 million, or $1.62 per share, for the fourth quarter ended October 31, compared with $457.2 million, or $1.07 per share, for the same period last year.

For fiscal 2011, net income attributable to Deere & Company was $2.800 billion, or $6.63 per share, compared with $1.865 billion, or $4.35 per share, last year.

Worldwide net sales and revenues increased 20 per cent, to $8.612 billion, for the fourth quarter and were up 23 per cent to $32.013 billion for the full year. Net sales of the equipment operations were $7.903 billion for the quarter and $29.466 billion for full-year 2011, compared with $6.564 billion and $23.573 billion for the corresponding periods last year.

"John Deere has completed another year of exceptional achievement," said Samuel R Allen, chairman and chief executive officer. "Our success reflects a continued pattern of strong customer response to our innovative lines of equipment coupled with the skilful execution of business plans aimed at expanding our global competitive position."

During the year, Deere introduced a record number of products and announced plans for six new factories, in China, Brazil and India. "John Deere's record performance is a further tribute to our operating model, which stresses rigorous cost management and asset efficiency," Allen stated. "As a result, we are achieving unprecedented financial results and generating healthy levels of cash flow. These dollars are funding growth throughout the world and also are being shared directly with investors in the form of dividends and share repurchases."

Summary of operations

Net sales of the worldwide equipment operations increased 20 per cent for the quarter and 25 per cent for the year. Sales included a favourable currency translation effect of 2 per cent for the quarter and 3 per cent for the year and price increases of 3 per cent for both periods. Equipment net sales in the United States and Canada rose 14 per cent for the quarter and 17 per cent for the year. Outside the US and Canada, net sales were up 31 per cent and 38 per cent for the respective periods, with favourable currency translation effects of 4 per cent and 7 per cent.

Deere's equipment operations reported operating profit of $955 million for the quarter and $3.839 billion for the year, compared with $716 million and $2.909 billion last year. Results were better for both periods largely due to higher shipment volumes and improved price realisation. These factors were partially offset by increased raw material costs, higher manufacturing overhead costs related to new products, and higher research and development expenses. In addition, full year results were impacted by higher selling, administrative and general expenses.

Net income of the company's equipment operations was $552 million for the quarter and $2.329 billion for the year, compared with $357 million and $1.492 billion last year. The same operating factors mentioned above, along with a lower effective tax rate, affected both the quarterly and annual results.

Financial services reported net income attributable to Deere & Company of $122.1 million for the quarter and $471.0 million for the year compared with $98.4 million and $372.5 million, respectively, last year. Results for both periods benefited from growth in the credit portfolio and a lower provision for credit losses, partially offset by narrower financing spreads and a higher effective tax rate. Included in 2010 fourth quarter results was a write-down of wind-energy assets held for sale to fair value.

Company outlook & summary

In spite of an unsettled global economy, demand for John Deere products is expected to experience substantial growth in fiscal year 2012 and the company is forecasting further increases in sales and earnings as a result. Company equipment sales are projected to increase about 15 per cent for the year and to be up 16 to 18 per cent for the first quarter compared with the same periods of 2011.

ncluded is a favourable currency translation impact of about 3 per cent for the quarter and about 1 per cent for the year. For the full year, net income attributable to Deere & Company is anticipated to be approximately $3.2 billion.

Supported by record 2011 performance, John Deere remains well-positioned to carry out its extensive growth plans and capitalise on positive long-term economic trends, according to Allen. "Thanks in large part to the dedication and hard work of our employees, dealers and suppliers worldwide, John Deere's plans for helping meet growing global needs for food and infrastructure are moving ahead at an accelerated rate," he said. "We are proud of the company's performance in 2011 and look forward to building on these gains in 2012 and beyond. We have great confidence in the company's future and our role in helping feed, clothe and shelter the world's growing population. These developments in our view hold great promise, which should prove rewarding to our investors and other stakeholders in the future."

Equipment division performance

Agriculture & Turf. Sales were up 18 per cent for the quarter and 21 per cent for the year primarily due to higher shipment volumes. Improved price realisation and favourable currency translation affected sales for both periods.

Operating profit was $868 million for the quarter and $3.447 billion for the year, compared with $662 million and $2.790 billion in 2010. Results were better for both periods largely due to higher shipment volumes and improved price realisation . These factors were partially offset by increased raw-material costs, higher manufacturing overhead costs related to new products, and higher research and development expenses. Additionally, full-year results were negatively affected by increased selling, administrative and general expenses.

Construction & Forestry. Construction and forestry sales rose 34 per cent for the quarter and were up 45 per cent for the year mainly due to higher shipment volumes. The division had operating profit of $87 million for the quarter and $392 million for the year, compared with $54 million and $119 million last year. Operating profit for both periods moved up primarily due to higher shipment and production volumes and improved price realisation. These factors were partially offset by increases in raw material costs and higher research and development expenses. In addition, higher selling, administrative and general expenses had an impact on full-year results.

Market conditions & outlook

Agriculture & Turf. Worldwide sales of the company's agriculture and turf division are forecast to increase by about 15 per cent for fiscal year 2012, with a favourable currency translation impact of about 1 per cent. Farmers in the world's major markets are continuing to experience favourable incomes due to strong demand for agricultural commodities. As well, John Deere's sales are expected to benefit from advanced new products being launched throughout the world and from major expansion projects such as those in emerging markets.

Industry farm machinery sales in the US and Canada are forecast to increase 5 to 10 per cent in 2012, following an advance in 2011. Overall conditions remain positive and demand continues to be strong, especially for high horsepower equipment.

Industry sales in the EU 27 nations of Western and Central Europe are forecast to be flat for 2012 as a result of general economic concerns in the region. Sales in the Commonwealth of Independent States are expected to be moderately higher, after rising substantially in 2011. Sales in Asia are forecast to be up strongly again in 2012. In South America, industry sales for the year are projected to be flat in relation to the attractive levels of 2011.

Industry sales of turf and utility equipment in the US and Canada are expected to increase slightly in 2012.

Construction & Forestry. Deere's worldwide sales of construction and forestry equipment are forecast to grow by about 16 per cent for fiscal 2012, with a favourable currency translation impact of about 1 per cent. The increase reflects slightly improved market conditions and activity outside of the US, including strength in Canada. Construction equipment sales to independent rental companies are expected to see further gains. Deere's sales also are expected to be supported by a range of advanced new products and by geographic expansion. After considerable growth in 2011, world forestry markets are projected to be about the same in 2012 due to weaker economic conditions in Europe.

Financial Services. Fiscal year 2012 net income attributable to Deere & Company for the financial services operations is expected to be approximately $450 million. The forecast decline from 2011 is primarily due to an increase in the provision for credit losses, which is anticipated to return to a more typical level, as well as higher selling, administrative and general expenses in support of enterprise growth initiatives. Partially offsetting these items is expected growth in the credit portfolio.

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