Deere & Co. swings to profit in Q4

Moline, Ill.-based Deere & Co., the 173-year old manufacturer of yard, farm and forestry equipment, posted fourth-quarter net income of $457.2 million, compared with a loss of $228.8 million in the same quarter last year.

Sales for the fourth quarter increased 35% to $7.202 billion.

Results were similarly strong for the full year. Earnings increased from $873.5 million in 2009 to $1.865 billion in 2010, as total revenues increased 13% to $26.005 billion.

"John Deere's strong performance for the quarter and full year reflects a disciplined approach to executing our business plans and was achieved despite continuing weakness in certain regions and business sectors," said Samuel R. Allen, chairman and CEO. "Although conditions continued to be positive in the U.S. farm sector, and included a highly favorable sales mix of larger equipment, European agricultural markets remained soft. Deere's construction equipment sales benefited from somewhat stronger overall demand but remained far below normal levels."

The company expanded its market presence, especially in developing parts of the world, he said.

Also during the quarter, a definitive agreement was reached to sell Deere's wind energy business, representing a decision to place more emphasis on core growth opportunities. "We are sharpening our strategic focus by targeting resources on the increasing need for agricultural and construction machinery around the world," Allen said.

The company is optimistic on demand from farmers, based on high prices for crops such as corn, wheat, soybeans, sugar and cotton. Worldwide sales of Deere's Agriculture and Turf division are expected to increase by 7% to 9% for the full year 2011.

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