Deere Lowers 2016 Forecast, Warren Buffett Increases Stake

February 19, 2016, 5:25 PM UTC
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Farm-equipment maker Deere (DE) reported better-than-expected earnings, but slashed its fiscal forecast on Friday—sending shares down by 3.7% in recent trading.

The earnings report comes days after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A), reported it increased its stake in the manufacturing company to 22.8 million by the end of the fourth quarter, according to a regulatory filing. That’s roughly or a 7.2% stake in Deere, worth $1.7 billion as of Dec. 31, 2015.

Buffett held roughly 17.1 million of the company shares in the third quarter of 2015. The Securities and Exchange Commission allows Buffett to delay reports in order to deter coattail investors vying after his “Midas touch.”

Whether or not Buffett’s decision proves savvy remains to be seen. Deere is up roughly 2.42% year to date, but down nearly 20% since its mid-July high. Buffett’s favorite holding period is “forever” and he is arguably the most successful investor of all time. But the “Oracle of Omaha” has had a bit of a rough patch of late, even losing some ground in his 10-year million-dollar bet (for charity) as Fortune’s Carol Loomis reported.

As for Deere, the manufacturer reported that sales are expected to fall 10% in the year ending October, a considerable downgrade from the previous forecast of 7%. Earnings are expected to clock in at $1.3 billion, down from the company’s prior estimate of $1.4 billion.

Deere reported first-quarter earnings per share of 80 cents, beating the analyst consensus by a dime.

The company lowered 2016 estimates in part due to declines in the U.S. agricultural sector, which is home base for a large portion of Deere’s customers. Farm incomes are expected to fall an additional 3% this year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“John Deere’s first-quarter results reflected the continuing impact of the downturn in the global farm economy as well as weakness in construction equipment markets,” said Samuel R. Allen, CEO of Deere.

Deere also expects sales of agricultural equipment in the U.S. and Canada to fall 15% to 20% in 2016.




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