Wires

UPDATE 2-CNH Industrial warns on profit as farmers in Americas cut spending

Giulio Piovaccari

* Sees 2020 adjusted EPS $0.78-$0.86 vs $0.95-$1 before

* Sees industrial net sales down slightly; fell 6% in 2019

* Shares drop as much as 5.2% (Adds quotes from analyst call)

MILAN, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Italian-American machinery maker CNH Industrial cut its 2020 earnings forecast on Friday, blaming a weakening in demand from farmers in Northern and Southern America, sending its shares as much as 5.2% lower.

The maker of farm machinery, Iveco commercial vehicles, construction equipment and powertrains, said it expected adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.78-$0.86 this year. That is well below the $0.95-$1 it forecast in September.

The company's Milan-listed shares closed down 4.94%.

Chief Executive Hubertus Muhlhauser told analysts in a post-earnings call that the company saw "flat-to-muted" markets this year across the various segments in which it operates.

The group expects net sales of its industrial activities to fall "slightly" in 2020, after they dropped 6% in 2019 to $26.1 billion, just missing the company's guidance.

It forecast a 5% decline in demand in the North American row crop sector this year, and said it now expected demand in South American markets to be cumulatively 20% lower than it originally forecast over the fourth quarter of 2019 and whole of 2020.

Adjusted diluted EPS rose 5% last year to $0.84, at the lower end of the group's guidance of $0.84-$0.88.

CNH Industrial - which is controlled by Exor, the holding group of Italy's Agnelli family - last year announced it would split in two.

It plans to create one company to run agriculture and construction brands such as Case and New Holland, and list a separate business to manage Iveco trucks, Iveco and Heuliez buses and FPT powertrains.

Muhlhauser said the process was track to be completed by January 2021, as planned.

"The work has been organised in detail (...) to secure minimum business disruption, while ensuring an effective spin-off execution and smooth start-up of the two new companies less than a year from now," he said.

Iveco unveiled in December its first electric vehicle, the Nikola Tre truck, built in partnership with U.S. startup Nikola Motor, which is expected to reach customers in 2021.

A hydrogen-cell version of the truck is expected in 2023.

CNH said its board had proposed a 2019 dividend of 0.18 euros ($0.20) per common share, unchanged from the previous year.

($1 = 0.9117 euros) (Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari; editing by Jason Neely and Mark Potter)