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The Latest: Caterpillar, Deere profits to feel virus impact

Agricultural and heavy equipment makers are in for a rough year as the virus pandemic delivers a sting to an industry trying to recover form a trade war.

Jefferies analyst Stephen Volkmann slashed his earnings forecast for Caterpillar and Deere because of a series of abrupt production closures and the broader economic shutdown. Both companies have already yanked their financial forecasts for the year.

Volkmann now expects a profit of $5.75 per share for Caterpillar, down from $9.50 per share. He also cut his forecast for Deere’s profit to $6 per share from $10 per share.

A slump in spending from the mining and construction industries could be particularly painful for Caterpillar. Deere has been especially hurt as farmers spend less on new equipment because of lower crop prices.

Shares of Deere and Caterpillar both managed gain 16% in 2019, despite the uncertainty from the trade war. Deere has already lost 21% and Caterpillar is down 27% in 2020. Both shares are up sharply amid a broad market rally Thursday.

Volkmann said the industries should start to improve in the third and fourth quarters, before growing in 2021.

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