Companies Tougher Than They Seem

We’re really getting a lot of financial numbers in right now and I have to say I’m fairly impressed by the resilience of corporations given the recent weakness in the economy. Sure, corporate outlooks are being revised, but this is no surprise at a time when the economy is mostly in recession.

One company I like for the long term is Deere & Company (NYSE/DE), which reported very solid financial results in its latest quarter.

This well-known equipment manufacturer reported total earnings of just over three hundred and sixty nine million dollars, or $0.83 per share, for the first quarter ended January 31, which compares very favorably to earnings of almost two hundred and thirty nine million dollars, or $0.52 per share, generated in the same quarter last year.

Total global sales grew 18% to $5.2 billion for the quarter, up solidly from total sales of $4.43 billion a year earlier.

The company cited that its international operations did particularly well in the latest quarter. Equipment sales in the U.S. and Canada grew nine percent over last year, while sales outside the U.S. and Canada increased by an impressive 37%.

Looking ahead, Deere projects that its full-year 2008 sales will grow by 17% this year. Second quarter sales are expected to grow by 23%.

As I’ve written before in this column, the commodity price cycle is now beginning to affect the agriculture sector in a positive way. When farmers make money, they put it right back into their operations and local economies do better.

John Deere has had a very good run on the stock market over the last decade. The last five years in particular have been impressive. I don’t see any reason why this company won’t continue to do well over the coming years. Therefore, I think that it makes for an attractive long-term holding.

It’s not going to be any kid of high flyer, mind you, just a consistent grower with solid fundamentals.