The companies are different, but the macroeconomic picture is the same: Global grain inventories are low, crops are fetching a pretty penny, and farmers are planting with a fervor. Let's see how this backdrop is boosting two agricultural players today.
First we have AGCO (NYSE: AG ) , which along with "Mother" Deere (NYSE: DE ) and CNH Global (NYSE: CNH ) is supplying the tractors and combines that farmers are using to reap future harvests. Domestically, small tractor sales are suffering, but the global picture is profoundly positive.
For the second quarter, overall sales rose 40%, or 27% when you exclude foreign currency gains. Top-line growth was robust across the board, with South American demand for equipment looking particularly powerful. Unit sales in the region were up 42% and 82% for tractors and combines, respectively.
AGCO gave us several ways to think about the firm's profitability for the quarter. Earnings per share, whether adjusted for one-time costs or not, doubled those of the prior year. Operating margins widened, with volume and pricing gains offsetting cost inflation. Rounding out the picture is a $290 million free-cash-flow figure, which nearly triples the prior year result.
Not to be outdone, fertilizer phenom Mosaic (NYSE: MOS ) reported robust quarterly profits of its own. Net sales nearly doubled, to $3.5 billion. Cash flow from operating activities and net income both roughly quadrupled.
If you've followed past moon shots, this is pretty ho-hum stuff. That's why you're seeing AGCO shares soar, while Mosaic just muddles along today. Remember that this is an expectations game, and it's getting harder for fertilizer firms like Mosaic and Agrium (NYSE: AGU ) to surprise to the upside. AGCO, on the other hand, trounced analyst estimates, and is being bid higher accordingly.
Of the companies mentioned here, Deere is a Foolish favorite. The firm holds a top five-star ranking in Motley Fool CAPS. What's your call?