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Deere profit doubles on North American sales

Farm equipment maker Deere & Co. (DE-N) reported a doubling of quarterly profit Wednesday amid strong North American sales of large, high-margin machines and price increases, and lifted its full-year profit forecast.

The world's largest maker of tractors and combines earned $514 million US, or $1.20 per share, in the first quarter that ended Jan. 31, compared with $243.2 million US, or 57 cents per share a year earlier.

Analysts, on average, expected a profit of 99 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters.

Sales rose 27 percent to $6.12 billion, ahead of Wall Street forecasts for sales of $5.67 billion. Machinery sales rose at a much faster pace in the United States and Canada than in other regions. Deere said it raised prices 2 percent.

Construction and forestry machine sales, a smaller business for Deere, soared 81 percent and the segment swung to a profit.

Rising prices of food commodities like corn, wheat and soybeans have boosted farmers' investments in new equipment. More inflation since the start of 2011 is supporting the company's outlook, Moline, Illinois-based Deere said.

Deere forecast a full-year profit of $2.5 billion. Its November forecast called for a 2011 profit of $2.1 billion.

It cited demand for high-horsepower machines, forecasting U.S. and Canadian sales would rise about 5 percent this year. But Deere noted production issues related to emissions standards could dampen sales in the near term. Deere forecast a rebound in Europe, Russia and surrounding farming regions. It also anticipates moderate growth in Asia.

Rival Agco reported better-than-expected earnings last week, helped by North American markets, but warned expenses would depress results in the current quarter. CNH Global also beat forecasts when it reported last month.

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