Improved sales and cost-cutting measures helped Deere & Co., Moline, Ill., post a profit of $68 million for the first quarter in 2003, rebounding from a loss in the same period a year ago.
The company's third straight quarterly profit came despite a market for agricultural equipment that remains weak. The gain was the third in a row after two consecutive losses at the start of FY 2002. First-quarter sales improved in all equipment lines, including double-digit increases in sales of industrial, forestry and lawn care equipment.
Deere predicts overall equipment sales will rise 7-9% for the year, slightly below its earlier forecast. Deere, however, still expects to meet its FY 2003 earnings target of $500-600 million.
The company launched a record number of new products in 2002 and trimmed operating costs by closing four factories and selling its Homelite consumer products business.