Deere profit plunges 41% amid coronavirus outbreak

Tractor-maker topped Wall Street's sales estimates

Deere & Co.'s quarterly profit plunged 41 percent from a year ago as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted operations in the final weeks of March.

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The Moline, Illinois-based heavy-equipment manufacturer earned $665.8 million, or $2.11 a share, as worldwide net sales fell 18 percent to $9.25 billion. Wall Street analysts surveyed by Refinitiv were expecting earnings of $1.62 a share on revenue of $7.69 billion.

“We’re confident the company will successfully manage the pandemic's effects and strengthen its position serving customers in the future,” CEO John May said in a statement.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
DEDEERE & COMPANY234.25-5.28-2.20%

Deere took a number of actions to bolster its balance sheet, raising $4.5 billion through medium- and long-term funding as well as cutting operating expenses and capital spending. The company had $8.9 billion cash at the end of March.

Equipment sales, which made up 89 percent of total revenue, fell 20 percent year-over-year to $8.22 billion. Agriculture and turf sales fell 18 percent while construction and forestry sales slid 25 percent.

Deere recorded a $114 million pretax writedown related to its minority stake in an equipment company in South Africa.

Looking ahead, Deere sees full-year 2020 net income of $1.6 billion to $2 billion, but warned the COVID-pandemic could "negatively affect" its results and future financial position.

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Deere shares fell 18 percent this year, worse than the S&P 500's 8.74 percent decline.