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Deere takes a hit as farm economy weakens

MOLINE, Ill. (AP) -- Deere's third-quarter profit fell 15 percent and the farming equipment maker believes that the same weak sales at home and abroad will cut into earnings for the year.

Deere earned $850.7 million, or $2.33 per share, for the three months ended July 31. This beat expectations of $2.20 per share, according to a poll by FactSet. A year earlier the Moline company earned $996.5 million, or $2.56 per share.

Revenue from equipment sales fell to $8.72 billion from $9.32 billion. Total sales and revenues, which includes financial services and other revenues, declined to $9.5 billion from $10.01 billion.

Equipment sales for the U.S. and Canada dropped 8 percent.

“Deere's third-quarter performance reflected moderating conditions in the global farm sector, which have negatively affected demand for farm machinery and contributed to lower sales and profits for our agricultural-equipment business,” said Chairman and CEO Samuel Allen. “At the same time, our construction and forestry and financial services divisions had higher profit, showing the benefit of a broad-based business lineup.”

Construction and forestry sales rose 19 percent during the quarter.

Deere & Co. now anticipates a 2014 profit of $3.1 billion, down slightly from its prior forecast of $3.3 billion.

Equipment sales are expected to fall approximately 6 percent for fiscal 2014 and drop about 8 percent for the fourth quarter. Deere previously predicted a 4 percent decline in equipment sales for the year.

The company's stock shed 34 cents to $86.14 in Wednesday premarket trading.

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