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Deere profit beats Street expectations

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Deere & Co (DE-N), the world's No. 1 maker of farm equipment, reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Wednesday, helped by demand for large machinery in North and South America, better pricing and a weak U.S. dollar.

High food prices have made farms more profitable, leading farmers to invest in equipment to boost farm productivity. Farm profits are forecast to reach record levels this year despite higher prices for seeds and fertilizer.

Some analysts who follow the farm equipment sector predict corn prices could double in coming years amid the tightest supply in 15 years. Soybean and wheat prices have also rallied over the past two years.

Deere's net earnings jumped 65 percent to $904.3 million US, or $2.12 per share, in the fiscal second quarter ended April 30, from $547.5 million, or $1.28 per share a year earlier.

Analysts, on average, expected profit of $2.06 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Total revenue rose 25 percent to $8.91 billion. Equipment sales of $8.33 billion beat forecasts of $8.14 billion.

International machinery sales rose 27 percent, helped by a 3 percentage point boost from currency.

Deere, which competes with Agco Corp. (AGCO-N) and CNH Global NV (CNH-N), said sales of large farm machinery were strong in the United States, Canada and Brazil, and said U.S. demand for construction was in early stages of recovery.

Deere forecast equipment sales to rise 21 percent to 23 percent this fiscal year, marking an improvement from its February forecast that had called for 18 to 20 percent sales improvement.

The March earthquake and tsunami in Japan will reduce full-year sales by about $300 million and operating profit by $70 million, the company said.

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