Wheat prices hit new highs at $7.46 a bushel at the end of April. That the highest since February 2013. Corn climbed to a new eight year high. The day soybeans rose for a tenth straight session to reach on eight year high.
When the prices of farm commodities climb, it’s tough times ahead at the grocery store for consumers.
But it’s good times ahead for farmers and that means increasing sales of tractors and other farm equipment for Deere (DE).
I’m adding the shares to my 12-18 month Jubak Picks Portfolio for purchase tomorrow, May 4. The stock climbed 1.55% today to $379.58, even as much of the market fell.
The stock was one of the original members of my long-term 50 Stocks Portfolio on December 30,2008. The shares are up 908% since then, as of the close on May 3. Among the original stocks in that portfolio, the return on Deere is second only to the 1459% gain for shares of Alphabet (GOOG).
As the gains to cyclical stocks today and the drop in technology shares should remind us, there’s more to the stock market than BIG TECH. The historical pattern for Deere is very clear: When commodity prices climb and take farm incomes up, farmers buy more machinery from Deere.
But the company is more than just a run-of-the-mill cyclical. Deere has been hard to work adding more technology to its farm machines–both hardware and software. Farmers using the newest (and if you own Deere you really like that word “new” and what it implies for sales) Deere machinery can harvest and plant more efficiently (and faster) while using less in seed, less fuel, and fewer agricultural chemicals. Buy a new Deere farm machine and watch your productivity rise and your costs fall. That makes the sale a bit easier, no? Deere’s big selling proposition is that its equipment has a lower cost of ownership than competitors. (And that includes a cover-the-waterfront service network that will get a machine back to work quickly after any breakdown.)
But Deere has also moved recently to increase its share of the construction and infrastructure market. The company’s purchase of Wirtgen in 2017 added equipment for road construction (milling, paving, and compacting) and mineral mining and processing (surface miners, crushers, and asphalt plants) to Deere’s existing portfolio of bulldozers, graders, wheel loaders, and excavators. The deal, Morningstar says, moved Deere from a global Top 10 player to a Top 3 player behind only Komatsu and Caterpillar.
The company raised its dividend 18% in February and now pays 0.96%. The shares trade at a forward price to earnings ratio of 24.94 on projected earnings.
I’d adding Deere to this portfolio with a target price of $460 a share.