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Deere & Co. gains as vow on cuts, guidance eases investor fears

Deere & Co.'s pledge to lower costs and an outlook cut that was less than some investors feared boosted the company's shares as it fights off the effects of a disruptive trade war and a slowing global economy.

The world's biggest tractor maker gained the most in seven months, climbing as much as 5.1% after announcing earnings Friday, Aug. 16, to recover some of the losses earlier in the week.

While fiscal third-quarter earnings trailed the average analyst estimate, its guidance and a vow to boost organizational efficiency may have comforted investors worried the company wasn't reacting well enough to a significant, continuing downturn.

"We view Deere's 3Q results and outlook as more resilient than feared," Goldman Sachs analysts said in a note to clients.

American growers are resisting major purchases as the U.S.-China trade war stretches into a second year with no clear end in sight, and after a season when wild weather batters their crops. Corn prices tanked on Monday when the U.S. government came out with acreage and yield numbers that exceeded estimates.

"There's been so much negative sentiment with the erosion of the trade environment and then the disastrous WASDE report," said Chris Ciolino, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst, referring to the Agriculture Department's report on global agricultural supply and demand. "People were bracing for more doom and gloom."

With production costs in some segments rising, the Moline, Illinois based company said it's "initiating a series of actions to make the organization more structurally efficient and profitable."

For fiscal 2019, equipment sales are now projected to rise about 4%, with net income forecast at $3.2 billion, Deere said in a statement. Three months ago, it predicted 5% equipment sales growth and $3.3 billion profit.

While Deere remains positive on general economic conditions, it lowered guidance for construction and forestry and now expects fiscal 2019 economic growth in the U.S. to be in line with 2018, downgrading a previous forecast for acceleration.

On a net basis, quarterly profit slipped to $899 million from $910 million a year ago. Sales fell 3%.

This is article was written by Lydia Mulvany, a reporter for Bloomberg.