Deere Earnings Top Estimates, but Shares Slip

John Deere Hybrid Tractor
Source: John Deere
John Deere Hybrid Tractor

Deere, the world's largest farm equipment maker, reported first-quarter results above analysts' expectations as farmers geared up to plant the biggest corn crop in U.S. history following the worst drought in the U.S. Midwest in 56 years.

The company also raised its forecast for net income in 2013 to $3.3 billion from $3.2 billion. Analysts had estimated $3.26 billion on average, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

"Relatively high commodity prices and strong farm incomes are expected to continue supporting a favorable level of demand for farm machinery during the year," Deere said.

The U.S. Agriculture Department said this week that farm income would soar to a record $127.6 billion this year, up 15 percent.

Deere said it expects total sales of agriculture and turf equipment to rise by about 6 percent in the year ending October.

(Read More: More Corn Than Expected, but Less Wheat: USDA)

Deere, whose competitors include AGCO Corp. and Caterpillar, said it expects sales in the United States and Canada to rise as much as 5 percent in the year.

Demand from Asia is also expected to rise slightly due to a strengthening Chinese economy, Deere said.

The company expects the strongest demand to come from South America, reflecting a booming commodities market in Brazil.

Sales of agriculture and turf equipment — which make up about three-quarters of Deere's total revenue — jumped 16 percent in the quarter ended Jan. 31.

Total revenue rose 10 percent to $7.42 billion, well ahead of the $6.72 billion analysts had expected.

Net income attributable to Deere rose to $649.7 million, or $1.65 per share, in the first quarter from $532.9 million, or $1.30 per share, a year earlier. Analysts expected first-quarter earnings of $1.40 per share.

Deere's agricultural business performed "extremely well" in the first quarter, BMO Capital Markets Joel Tiss said.

Deere shares were flat before the bell on Wednesday. The stock, which has gained about 10 percent in the last 12 months, closed at $93.97 on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday.

Reuters contributed to this report.