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Deere & Company (NYSE:DE)
Q4 2017 Earnings Conference Call
Nov. 22, 2017 10:00 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Welcome. Good morning and welcome to Deere & Company Fourth Quarter Earnings Conference Call. Your lines have been placed on listen-only until the question and answer session of today's conference. I would now like to turn the call over to Mr. Tony Huegel director of investor relations. Thank you. You may begin.

Tony Huegel -- Director, Investor Relations

Hello. Also on call today are Raj Kalathur, our Chief Financial Officer; and Josh Jepsen, Manager, Investor Communications. Today we'll take a closer look at Deere's fourth quarter earnings, our markets and our initial outlook for fiscal 2018. After that, we'll respond to your questions.

Please note that slides are available to complement the call this morning. They can be accessed on our website at www.johndeere.com/earnings. First, a reminder. This call is being broadcast live on the Internet and recorded for future transmission and use by Deere & Company.

Any other use, recording or transmission of any portion of this copyrighted broadcast without the expressed written consent of Deere is strictly prohibited. Participants in the call, including the Q&A session, agree that their likeness and remarks in all media may be stored and used as part of the earnings call. This call includes forward-looking comments concerning the company's plans and projections for the future that are subject to important risks and uncertainties additional information concerning factors that could cause actual results to differ materially is contained in the company's most recent form 8-K and periodic reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. This call also may include financial measures that are not in conformance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America or GAAP.

Additional information concerning these measures including reconciliations to comparable GAAP measures is included in the release and posted on our website at www.johndeere.com/earnings under Quarterly Earnings and Events. Josh?

Josh Jepsen -- Manager, Investor Communications

Today, John Deere announced its fourth quarter financial results and the end to another successful year. In fact, sales and earnings for 2017 were the fifth highest in company history. Our performance was helped by improving markets for farm and construction equipment and also by our ongoing success establishing a broad-based product portfolio in a flexible cost structure. As a result, Deere has remained well-positioned not only to service present customers but also to make investments needed to drive growth and attract even more customers in the future.

Now, let's take a closer look at the fourth quarter in detail beginning on Slide four. Net sales and revenues were up 23% to just over $8 billion. Net income attributable to Deere & Company was $510 million. EPS was $1.57 in the quarter.

On Slide five, total worldwide equipment operations net sales were up 26% to about $7.1 billion. Price realization in the quarter was positive by 1 point. Currency translation was positive by 2 points. Turning to a review of our individual businesses.

Let's start with Ag and Turf on Slide six. Net sales were up 22% in the quarter-over-quarter comparison. All regions of the world were higher in the quarter. The increase was led by the U.S. and the EU 28. Operating profit was $584 million, up 57% versus the fourth quarter of 2016. The increase in operating profit was primarily driven by higher shipment volumes and favorable sales mix, partially offset by higher production costs and higher selling, administrative and general expenses.

Operating margins were 10.7% in the quarter. Incremental margins were about 47% for the full year. Excluding the impact of items such as the SiteOne gain and voluntary separation program expenses, the incremental margins were about 33%. Before we review the industry sales outlook, let's look at some fundamentals affecting the ag business. On Slide seven, despite increasing global demand, global grain and oilseed stocks-to-use ratios are forecast to remain at elevated but generally unchanged levels in 2017, '18 as an abundant crop are mostly offset by strong demand around the world.

Chinese grain and oilseed stocks remain high heading into 2018 after more than 10 years of supply, which includes domestic production plus imports outpacing demand. Chinese grain still represent almost half of the world's stocks and considering that the stocks are unlikely to be exported, the market remains sensitive to production setbacks or major geopolitical disruptions. World cotton stocks-to-use ratio has now fallen for second consecutive season and to the lowest level in five seasons, reflecting stronger global demand.Slide 8 outlines U.S. farm cash receipts.

2017 cash receipts are estimated to be $377 billion, about 3% higher than 2016's level. Given the large crop harvests in 2017 and, consequently the lower commodity prices we're seeing today, we expect 2018 total cash receipts to be approximately $368 billion. That's down about 2% from 2017 due to lower livestock and crop cash receipts.Our economic outlook for the EU 28 is on Slide nine. GDP growth in the region is improving though risks remain.

Arable farm margins are below the long-term average while the dairy market is recovering with prices holding at above average levels and forecast for margins exceeding the 5-year average. The sentiment remains positive for beef import producers though downward pressure on pork prices is possible. Shifting to Brazil on Slide 10. The chart on the left displays the crop value of agricultural production, a good proxy for the health of agribusiness in Brazil.

Ag production is expected to decrease about 4% in 2018 in U.S. dollar terms due mainly to record production in 2017 and the reversion to trend yields in 2018. In local currency, the value of production is forecast to be down about 2%. Although forecast to be lower in 2018, ag margins in Brazil are coming off a record year and continued acreage expansion is expected.

On the right side of the slide, you see the eligible rates for ag-related government-sponsored finance programs. Rates for Moderfrota remain at 7.5% for small and midsized farmers and 10.5% for large farmers. This demonstrates the government's ongoing commitment to agriculture. Our 2018 ag and turf industry outlook are summarized on Slide 11.

Industry sales in the U.S. and Canada are forecast to be up 5% to 10% for the year. Despite current commodity prices, the industry is experiencing stronger replacement demand for large equipment while demand for small equipment remains solid. Deere is experiencing strong order activity in both our early order programs for seasonal products and our order book for large tractors, which are supportive of the outlook.

The EU 28 industry outlook is forecast to be up about 5% in 2018, a result of margin recovery in dairy and livestock, as well as improved harvest outlooks in key markets such as France and the U.K. In South America, industry sales of tractors and combines, are projected to be flat to up 5% in 2018. This is driven mainly by demand in Argentina, which continues to benefit from favorable policy effects, strong fundamentals, and pent-up demand. Shifting to Asia.

Sales are expected to be relatively unchanged from 2017. Turning to another product category. Industry retail sales of turf and utility equipment in the U.S. and Canada are projected to be roughly flat in 2018, so Deere expects to outpace the industry Putting this all together on Slide 12.

Fiscal year 2018 Deere sales of worldwide ag and turf equipment are forecast to be up about 9%, including about 2 points of positive currency translation. The sales increase is led by the U.S. market and, to a lesser extent, by the EU 28. The increase in the U.S.

is due in part to significant growth in the sale of small ag and turf products which are expected to benefit from new product introductions in the year. The Ag and Turf division operating margin forecast is about 12.5% in 2018. Excluding the impact of special items, the implied incremental margin in 2018 are nearly 35%. Furthermore, excluding the impact of currency translation and negative mix, forecasted incremental margins are above 40%.

Now, let's focus on Construction & Forestry on Slide 13. Net sales were up 37% in the quarter due to higher shipment volumes, price realization and the favorable effects of currency translation. Operating profit was $85 million due to higher shipment volumes and price realization, partially offset by an impairment charge for international operations. Operating margin was 5% in the quarter, but 7.5% excluding the impairment charge.

Moving to Slide 14. The economic fundamentals affecting the construction and forestry industries in North America continue to be supportive of increased industry demand. GDP growth is forecast to be strong, continuing the positive trend experienced during the past six months in the U.S. and Canada.

Housing demand is growing but constrained by supply. As a result, single-family home inventories continue at 35-year lows. Single-family housing starts are strong across all regions in the U.S. Single-family homes require increased earthmoving and lumber content, which are important drivers of earthmoving and forestry equipment.

Construction investment is forecast to grow in 2018 led by oil and gas and residential activity. Oil prices are forecast to be above $50, which is important since oil and gas-related activity tends to slow when oil prices are below $50 and tends to pick up when above that level. In addition, machinery rental utilization rates continue improving and rental pricing is gaining traction. Finally, new and used inventory levels have come down and auction activity has declined substantially year-over-year.

Deere's outlook also reflects a strong order book based on industry activity and positive trends in retail sales. Moving to the C&F outlook on Slide 15. Deere's Construction & Forestry sales are now forecast to be up about 69% in 2018, mainly driven by the anticipated acquisition of Wirtgen as well as by strong demand in the U.S. and Canada.

The forecast includes about $3.1 billion in sales from Wirtgen and assumes the acquisition will close in December. Regarding forestry, the forecast for global forestry market is flat to up 5%, a result of improvement in the U.S. and Canada. C&F's full-year operating margin is projected to be about 8%, which includes estimated purchase accounting and transaction costs for Wirtgen.

Excluding Wirtgen, the division's annual operating margin is forecast to be about 10.5%. Let's move now to our Financial Services operations. Slide 16 shows the provision for credit losses as a percent of the average owned portfolio. The provision at the end of 2017 was 24 basis points, reflecting the continued excellent quality of our portfolios.

The financial forecast for 2018 shown on the slide contemplates a loss provision of about 25 basis points. This would put losses at a 10-year average of 25 basis points and slightly below the 15-year average of 27. Moving to Slide 17. Worldwide Financial Services net income attributable to Deere & Company was $128 million in the fourth quarter versus $110 million last year.

For the full year, Financial Services net income attributable to Deere & Company was $477 million versus $468 million in 2016. The higher results for both periods were primarily due to lower losses on lease residual values. Full year results were partially offset by less favorable financing spreads and higher selling, administrative and general expenses. Financial Services is expected to earn about $515 million in 2018.

The outlook reflects a higher average portfolio, partially offset by higher selling, administrative and general expenses. Next, we'll turn to receivables and inventories as shown on Slide 18. For the company as a whole, receivables and inventories ended the year up $1.477 billion. Ag and Turf accounted for about 2/3 of the increase with the majority driven by growth in overseas receivables.

2018 receivables and inventories are expected to rise primarily due to the inclusion of Wirtgen while the rest of the business will likely see movement in line with sales. More specific guidance will be provided with our first quarter 2018 earnings release. Moving to Slide 19. Cost of sales as a percent of net sales for 2017 was 77%.

Our 2018 guidance for cost of sales as a percent of net sales is about 75%. When modeling 2018, keep these impacts in mind: Positive price realization of about 1 point. On the unfavorable side, we expect an unfavorable product mix, higher overhead spending, and increased incentive compensation. Now let's look at some additional details with respect to R&D on Slide 20.

R&D was up 3% in the fourth quarter, but down 2% for the full year. Currency translation had an unfavorable impact of 1% in the quarter and no impact for the full year. Our 2018 forecast caused our R&D to be up about 18%, half of which is related to the acquisitions of Wirtgen and Blue River Technology. Moving now to Slide 21.

SA&G expense for the equipment operations was up 15% in the fourth quarter with acquisition-related activities, commissions paid to dealers, incentive compensation and currency translation accounting for most of the change. SA&G expense for the full year was up 12% due to the same factors noted for the quarter in addition to voluntary separation program expenses. Our 2018 forecast calls for SA&G expense to be up about 26%. Excluding acquisition-related expenses, SA&G is forecast to be up about 2% in 2018.

Turning to Slide 22. The equipment operations tax rate was 27% in the quarter and 30% for the full year. For 2018, the effective tax rate is forecast to be in the range of 31% to 33%. The rate is a result of a more favorable mix of income, improved profitability outside the U.S.

and structural changes within the business. Slide 23 shows our equipment operations' history of strong cash flow. Cash flow from the equipment operations was $2.4 billion in 2017. The change versus our previous forecast of about $2.9 billion was due largely to OPEB contributions made earlier than previously anticipated for tax planning purposes.

For 2018, cash flow from equipment operations is forecast to be about $3.8 billion, which includes positive cash flow from Wirtgen. The 2018 financial outlook is on Slide 24. Net sales for the quarter are forecast to be up about 38% compared with 2018. This includes about 2 points of price realization and about 3 points of favorable currency translation.

Wirtgen is expected to contribute about 6 points to the increase in the quarter. The full-year forecast calls for net sales to be up about 22%. Price realization and favorable currency translation are expected to be about 1 point and 2 points, respectively. Wirtgen sales are forecast to contribute about 12 points for the year.

Finally, our full year 2018 net income forecast is about $2.6 billion. Comparing 2017 and 2018, Slide 25 shows a high-level reconciliation of operating profit for the equipment operations adjusted for special items. Operating profit was $2.82 billion for the equipment operations in 2017. Included were these special items which require consideration: $375 million pre-tax gain from sale of remaining interest in SiteOne Landscape Supply, which has been discussed throughout the year; M&A costs of $37 million; impairment charge of $40 million mentioned earlier; and voluntary separation program expenses of $92 million.

Adjusted for these factors, 2017 operating profit would have been $2.615 billion. Looking at 2018. Based on the guidance for net sales changes and operating margins by segment, projected operating profit for the equipment operations is forecast to be about $3.525 billion. Included in the operating profit forecast are the following items of note.

Wirtgen's operating profit, using very preliminary estimates for purchase accounting and deal costs, is expected to be about $75 million, resulting in operating margin between 2% and 3%. On a stand-alone basis, Wirtgen is forecast to deliver operating margin in the range of 15% to 16%. The operating margin expectation for the business going forward is in the 11% to 12% range, reflecting estimated ongoing purchase accounting-related expenses. The 2018 forecast does not include any benefit from synergies associated with the Wirtgen acquisition, which, as noted at the time of announcement, are expected to total EUR 100 million by 2022.

Additionally, the acquisition of Blue River Technology results in higher year-over-year spending of roughly $60 million as we invest in machine learning and integrate the technology into our portfolio. Taking these items into account, adjusted operating profit for 2018 is expected to be about $3.51 billion. On an adjusted basis, the comparison shows an improvement of roughly $900 million in operating profit for 2018 versus 2017, representing an incremental margin of about 33%. As a result, Deere is demonstrating improved operational performance due to disciplined cost execution, cost management and continued investment in innovative technology and solutions.

This brings benefits to stakeholders in 2018 and beyond. I'll now turn the call over to Raj Kalathur for closing comments.

Raj Kalathur -- Chief Financial Officer

Before we ask or take questions, I want to share a few thoughts about our performance in 2017 and what we see in store for the year ahead. First, it's noteworthy that Deere has been able to perform so well with the North American market for large farm equipment running at such a low level. Even in 2018, with the sales on upswing, we see a U.S. market for things like large tractors, for example, remaining over 25% below what we consider to be a mid-cycle level.

So there's lots of upside potential there when the market recovers. Our ability to maintain strong performance under these conditions speaks to our success establishing a broad product lineup, including small tractors and turf equipment, as well as a more profitable international presence. The second point concerns structural costs. Our performance in 2017 and our forecast for the year ahead are like clear evidence of the progress we have made reducing structural costs.

This is helping us generate strong incremental margins and impressive cash flow, which we are using to make investments in technology and growth. We remain committed to further bringing down structural costs and it will remain a priority for Deere in the future. Finally, a thought about Wirtgen. Needless to say, we remain excited about the many opportunities for growth that Wirtgen will bring to John Deere, thanks in large part to the world's growing need for roads and infrastructure.

The Wirtgen acquisition also underscores the financial strength of our company. Consider that, in the coming weeks, Deere will conclude a $5 billion-plus acquisition, by far the largest in our history, fund the acquisition with a relatively low amount of debt and still maintain a very strong balance sheet. Even after the deal is completed, we believe our net debt-to-capital ratio for the equipment ops will be in the mid-20% range and that it will improve throughout 2018 given the strong cash flow we are expecting. All in all, then, we have great confidence in Deere's present course.

Backed by solid performance in 2017 and our strong outlook for the year ahead, we firmly believe the company is in a prime position to capitalize on the world's increasing need for advanced equipment and is set to deliver stronger and more consistent results in the future.

Tony Huegel -- Director, Investor Relations

Thank you, Raj. Now we're ready to begin the Q&A portion of the call. The operator will instruct you on the polling procedure in consideration of others and our hope to allow more of you to participate in the call, please limit yourself to one question. If you have additional questions, we ask that you rejoin the queue.

Katie?

Questions & Answers:

Operator

Thank you. At this time we would like to begin the question and answer portion of today's conference. If you would like to ask a question from the phone lines please press * then 1, unmute your phone, and record your name when prompted. If you need to withdraw your question, please press * then 2.

Once again, to ask a question from the phone lines, please press * then 1 and record your name when prompted. Our first question comes from Andrew Casey from Wells Fargo Securities. Your line is now open.

Andrew Casey -- Wells Fargo -- Analyst

Thanks. Good morning.

Tony Huegel -- Director, Investor Relations

Hey, Andy

Andrew Casey -- Wells Fargo -- Analyst

Just wanted to ask a couple of questions about the Ag and Turf outlook. Within the 9% revenue growth, specifically, the 7% core growth expectation, are you including any expectation for potential dealer restock actions?

Tony Huegel -- Director, Investor Relations

If you think about -- and I'm guessing that question is specifically targeted toward -- of large ag in the U.S. and Canada.

Andrew Casey -- Wells Fargo -- Analyst

Yes.

Tony Huegel -- Director, Investor Relations

And the answer there would be, at this point, we would be forecasting pretty much in line type of shipment in terms of retail. So we would not be anticipating, at this point of the year, increasing any receivables and/or field inventory on large ag in the U.S. and Canada. So basically, again, think about, at this point, building to retail demand.

Andrew Casey -- Wells Fargo -- Analyst

Okay, Tony. And then...

Tony Huegel -- Director, Investor Relations

I'm sorry. I hate to say we're going to have to limit to one question. There's a lot of people in the queue and we want to be fair to others.

Andrew Casey -- Wells Fargo -- Analyst

Okay. Thank you.

Operator

Our next caller our next question comes from Jerry Revich from Goldman Sachs and Company. Your line is now open.

Jerry Revich -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

Hi, good morning and Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Tony, I'm wondering if you could just talk about where dealer used equipment inventories stand today? How much progress have you made over the past quarter? And just frame for us there ratio of used versus new equipment sales that the dealers are seeing in '17 compared to a long-term average if you could?

Tony Huegel -- Director, Investor Relations

Sure. Yes. I think maybe the best way to think about used equipment is -- we started to say really through 2017 and we continue to say our used equipment levels, especially as it relates to large ag equipment, has shifted really to being more supportive of the ability for our dealers to sell new equipment. So we are making continued progress on that large ag inventory.

And I think if you put it in context, I mean, we have -- if you look on products like combines and 4-wheel-drive tractors, I mean, those used levels are, today, at levels that we really haven't seen since kind of the 2010 time frame. The one challenge that we would continue to have that we're still working on would be on large [inaudible] tractors. And, again, I want to emphasize the position is much better today than it would have been 12 to 18 months ago, but it is an area of continued focus for us as we go into 2018. So -- all right?

Jerry Revich -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

And Tony sorry. Can you frame the used versus new sales? Or can you just give us some context on that?

Tony Huegel -- Director, Investor Relations

Again, I think it would still be in line. Again, as we've gone through the year, our dealers, obviously, as they focus on bringing down those used, you'd see a little higher than normal level of used to bring those down. I think on tractors, we would anticipate a continuation of that going forward. But clearly, we're seeing some strength in the new sales as well partly and due to the fact that dealers have been very successful in getting those used inventories more rightsized.

Jerry Revich -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

Thank you.

Tony Huegel -- Director, Investor Relations

Thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from Jamie Cook from Credit Suisse Securities. Your line is now open.

Jamie Cook -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Hi, good morning. Tony, just -- sorry to focus so much on the large ag equipment market, but you talked a little bit about your early order program. Can you just sort of provide more color across product line how much visibility you have and how much the order book is up both for ag in the U.S. as well as construction on an organic basis?

Tony Huegel -- Director, Investor Relations

You bet. Yes, and again, as you talked about even last quarter on the kind of crop care early order program, the sprayers and planters, up double digits, they did end. So the early order programs have ended up double digits on those products, again, keep in mind off of a very low base. Our combine early order program, it will end in January but we did finish kind of the second phase of that.

It also, at this point, has seen some double-digit increase. Now, I want to be really careful with that combined number because recognizing this year our anticipation is we saw a fairly aggressive orders early. It would anticipate those trailing off a bit, still higher year-over-year but not necessarily that double-digit. Remember, we were at high single-digit increase in 2017.

So seeing another year of strength from combines in 2018 is very encouraging. When you think about row-crop tractors, those Waterloo tractors, again remember those are not on an early order program. Think about that more as a kind of traditional sequential order. And we think about availability really pretty much across the board on those Waterloo tractors we would see availability further out than where we would've been a year ago.

Some examples if you look at AR -- 8R tractors, our availability is out into kind of the March timeframe versus January to early February a year ago is just one example, and that's pretty consistent. And again, that's based on our current production schedules that we are seeing that type of order volume. Maybe in summary, and perhaps where I should start it is when you think about our order books relative to the forecast, our order coverage today on our original budget outlook is much stronger really across the board than what we would've seen a year ago. As we shift to C&F, I would say it is much, much stronger today versus what we would've seen a year ago at this point.

We continue to see very, very strong orders in that -- for that division. And again, put that in context, we would continue to say, basically we're a quarter out, generally, on availability. Obviously, as retail need to come in, we shift that around a little bit to accommodate needs but most of first quarter is spoken for today on orders. So very excited about where we're at from an order perspective going into 2018.

Jamie Cook -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Okay, that's encouraging. Thank you'll get back in queue.

Tony Huegel -- Director, Investor Relations

Thank you.

Operator

Our next caller comes question comes from Rob Wertheimer with Melius Research LLC. Your line is now open.

Rob Wertheimer -- Melius Research -- Analyst

Hi, it's Rob Wertheimer from Melius. How are you guys doing?

Tony Huegel -- Director, Investor Relations

Good. How are you, Rob?

Rob Wertheimer -- Melius Research -- Analyst

Good. Thank you. So the question is a little bit like what's happened in the last month or three months, and just how it feels. And stop me if I get something wrong but it seems as though your receivables and then inventories went up which I assume is a bullish sign rather than kind of an issue or whatever.

In October obviously, AM sales were really, really strong. So is there any some sort of an inflection? I mean what do you attribute those two factors to? And maybe just comment on what it feels like.

Tony Huegel -- Director, Investor Relations

Sure. I would say, certainly, what we're seeing in our outlook is really in what we saw in those early order programs in the track order book that I just talked about. I would say more as a confirmation of what we were seeing really kind of for mid-2017 forward. We talked about that replacement demand is appearing to come back.

And so from our perspective, not a significant change. Again, it's encouraging for sure because until you actually see those orders, the sentiment is just that. It's sentiment. But we're seeing that translate into orders, which is encouraging.

I wouldn't read -- as it relates to North American ag, I wouldn't read a lot into that receivable and inventory increase because most of that is related to outside the U.S., and Canada, increases. And specifically, on the receivables versus what we had previously forecasted, it's things like -- we talked in the last year, where we did have a special deal with Turkmenistan, a large transaction, and the timing of that can sometimes create differences in terms of whether it's settled or not, and that really is what happened at the end of the year. That was a big part of that increase versus what we had forecast. So again, that's really just supportive of the strength we've seen outside of the U.S.

and Canada through 2017, not really any significant build at all and really no build in the field inventories in the U.S. and Canada.

Rob Wertheimer -- Melius Research -- Analyst

Okay. Thanks, Tony.

Tony Huegel -- Director, Investor Relations

Thank you. All right, next caller?

Operator

Our next question comes from Ann Duignan from JP Morgan Securities. Your line is now open.

Ann Duignan -- JPMorgan Chase -- Analyst

Hi, good morning.

Tony Huegel -- Director, Investor Relations

Hi, Ann.

Ann Duignan -- JPMorgan Chase -- Analyst

I guess since J.B. is not there, I'll ask a question of Raj. With Construction & Forestry, you used to say that segment has earned its right to grow. But if we look at shareholder value-add over the last two years, it's actually been negative.

And if we look at the last four years, it's basically been flat, down $1 million actually. So can you talk about the fact we also had impairments this quarter with impairments last year at the same quarter? So Raj, can you just talk about the risks of making a big -- large acquisition in that segment and what we should -- just how we should think about that?

Raj Kalathur -- Chief Financial Officer

Ann, thanks for that question. Now first, I want to remind you that if you took underlying numbers that we talked about for this year in terms of margins, Josh said, it will be 10.5% margins for C&F this year if we don't include the Wirtgen portion. Now, the other part that you need to remember is we've had these growth investments in Brazil and in China. That actually pulled our overall margins down.

When we look at the margins for the core business and we know it is free pretty healthy, OK? So that's one of the requirements we have for the [inaudible] and that's coming along well. Now supporting that, as you know, we are getting to be larger over time in the production class equipment, and that's going to be positive for us longer term, and even as the businesses in South America, like Brazil, starts coming up and our factory capacity is utilized better, the margins will improve there too. So we watch it very carefully and we know the underlying health of the Construction & Forestry business is pretty good. We want to make it better, of course.

And then even with the Wirtgen transaction, if you think about the areas that Wirtgen participates in, and the type of premium they get, now we anticipate, and as we mentioned on the call, 11% to 12% type margins on an ongoing basis even after some of the purchase accounting items. So if you look at cash for that business, it's almost 15% to 16% cash EBIT type margins. So overall that improves further our overall margins for C&F. So yes, it's not -- doesn't look good on paper when you look at it as reported but it's actually -- the underlying health of that business is very good.

Ann Duignan -- JPMorgan Chase -- Analyst

And if you wouldn't mind just clarifying, Raj, where exactly were the impairment charges in both years.

Raj Kalathur -- Chief Financial Officer

Okay, last year, the impairment charges were primarily for a couple of our units in Brazil and China. And this year, impairment charges are for another foreign entity that's not Brazil or China, OK?

Tony Huegel -- Director, Investor Relations

Thank you. Next caller, please.

Operator

Our next question comes from Nicole DeBlase from Deutsche Bank Securities. Your line is now open.

Tony Huegel -- Director, Investor Relations

Hi, Nicole.

Nicole DeBlase -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

Hi. So I guess around the ag and turf incremental margins, I think you guys said that you're implying up to 35% next year and 40% x items. So given that material costs are still higher and you talked about a little bit of incentive compensation pressure if you could talk about the key drivers of those pretty robust incremental margins in your guidance.

Tony Huegel -- Director, Investor Relations

Sure, yes. And again, we do not have significant material increases currently in the forecast for next year. So we certainly had in 2017 but I would say '18 at least in the initial guide is relatively flat and that again, we talked a lot about the cost reduction programs helping to offset some of that higher cost. As you think about, obviously, higher volumes help, price realization will help.

To be fair, we would be forecasting some lower warranty expense. Those would all be certainly helping from an operating profit perspective. On the flip side, we also have talked about, and it's clearly in the guidance, higher R&D, and much of that increased R&D is related to our agricultural side of the business and specifically large ag products as we start looking at new generation of products there as well. There is some unfavorable mix that's -- a lot of that is due to parts as well.

Remember it's complete goods increase, parts as a percent of the total tends to come down a bit and then again, some higher SA&G which as you mentioned would include some of that incentive comp but also include things like as South America business, in particular, improves some higher dealer commissions that flow through into those -- into that SA&G. So those are really kind of the key drivers there as we look going forward. But again, I think as Raj mentioned, and Josh as well, I think it's really just evidence of the strength that the structural cost reductions are bringing an improvement that it's making to the overall business to see those types of incrementals.

Nicole DeBlase -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

Thanks, Tony.

Tony Huegel -- Director, Investor Relations

Thank you. Next caller?

Operator

Our next question comes from Steven Fisher from UBS Securities. Your line is now open.

Steven Fisher -- UBS -- Analyst

Thanks, good morning. Raj, thanks for the color on the 25% below mid-cycle. I wonder if you could sort of frame the trough and peak levels you see there in ag that kind of support that number because I think that would imply something like $27 billion to $28 billion of a mid-cycle ag revenue number which compares to about a $29-plus billion peak. So just kind of wondering how you're thinking about framing what trough and peak would be with the 25% below on a 2018 number.

Tony Huegel -- Director, Investor Relations

This is Tony. But keep in mind that was specific to large ag in the U.S. and Canada and not the total ag business. So if you look at our current forecast for 2018, we'd be closer to 90% of mid-cycle for the total division.

But again, I think the point is these types of returns are being recognized when our largest most profitable portion of that business is down pretty significantly and continues to be down pretty significantly. We've talked all along that versus peak of 2013, large ag in the U.S. and Canada was down 60% or more and you're starting to see us come off of those trough levels but still at relatively low levels. So the good news there is as the recovery continues for those large ag products, there is a lot of additional opportunity for profitability and certainly incremental margins as well.

Steven Fisher -- UBS -- Analyst

Thank you.

Tony Huegel -- Director, Investor Relations

Next caller?

Operator

Our next question comes from Joel Tiss from BMO Capital Markets. Your line is now open.

Joel Tiss -- BMO Capital Markets -- Analyst

Hey, guys. One clarification and then a question. On the clarification for Raj, on the consolidated balance sheet, the inventories are up $692 million but on the cash flow statement, it's closer to $1.2 billion, a negative working capital. And then when you deconsolidate the balance sheet, the inventories are only up $564 million.

So I just wondered if you could get to the bottom of that. And then the question is, is the cost of sales dropped from 77% to 75% is that a structural change just because you're including Wirtgen? Or is there something else behind that?

Tony Huegel -- Director, Investor Relations

Yes. Actually, the Wirtgen numbers don't change that cost of sales percentage significantly, I think as you look at cost of sales year-over-year, you're really seeing, again, benefit of some increased volumes as well as price realization. But again, it goes to, as I mentioned previously, it's the benefit that we're seeing from some of those structural cost reductions that are starting to come into play in that cost of sales as well. I'm not going to say anything more.

We will follow up -- maybe we'll follow up later on your question on cash -- take your time.

Joel Tiss -- BMO Capital Markets -- Analyst

Okay. Thank you.

Tony Huegel -- Director, Investor Relations

Next caller?

Operator

Our next question comes from Joe O'Dea from Vertical Research Partners. Your line is now open.

Joe O'Dea -- Vertical Research Partners -- Analyst

Hi, good morning. Just back to the comments on -- continue to pace some of the structural savings you talked about in that initial $500 million that you targeted. Could you give us a sense of how much of that is remaining and how much of that you expect to achieve in 2018?

Tony Huegel -- Director, Investor Relations

I think really what we would say there is as business is continuing to grow, the short answer is we're moving -- we're basically have chosen not to give a specific number. I think as we talked about even last quarter, you can see it in the incremental margins. We're certainly continued to be committed there but the challenge is, we have -- as we talked about previously, you have the structural cost programs continuing to be ongoing, but then you have other levers being released or making different decisions around investments. R&D is probably the best example of that.

That was an area that we were focused on when we were back in 2016 type of levels. It's reducing R&D. Now as our businesses are starting to improve, we're shifting the focus there and at these levels feel the need that we need to step up some of the investment in those products again. And so with all of those moving pieces, I think the way to think about the structural cost reduction is, clearly, in our view, it's being seen in the 2018 incrementals, at least in the underlying business.

And certainly, you should expect to continue to see the benefit of that as we go forward. Again, we'll make decisions as we go forward, how much of those structural cost reductions in the existing business are used to improve margins and how much of that is used to invest for future growth, and that's again, consistent with what we said pretty much all along with the structural cost reduction.

Raj Kalathur -- Chief Financial Officer

So, Joe, I'll add that, qualitatively, I'd say we have been very successful in our journey in respect to structural cost reduction. Now as Tony mentioned, we can't steer the levers we've added because of volume coming up. The material inflation that we've been compensated in '17, the additional R&D that we're investing in and growth investments we're making and still delivered a very strong incremental margins in '17 and '18. You'll see the significant benefit the cost reduction exercise has delivered.

Now we do -- to your other part of the question, we do plan to further drive this effort in 2018 and beyond, so clearly not done. We have more to get. We've been very successful to date and we have more to get.

Joe O'Dea -- Vertical Research Partners -- Analyst

I appreciate it. Thank you.

Tony Huegel -- Director, Investor Relations

Thank you. Next caller?

Operator

Our next caller comes from Timothy Thein with Citigroup Global Markets. Your line is now open.

Timothy Thein -- Citigroup -- Analyst

Thank you, good morning. Tony, first, just maybe a clarification on your comments early on the combine early order program in North America being up double digits. My impression of that is that typically the first phase accounts for a much higher percentage of orders just because the incentives are higher and then they kind of ratchet down as you go through that. So I guess my question is was the discount structure changed this year? Just I just want to make sure I appreciate your comment because again I would think that it would always be higher in that first phase.

Tony Huegel -- Director, Investor Relations

That is certainly true, and would still be true this year. I think the difference is as we go deeper into the program, the anticipation is that last year those orders remained actually pretty strong through that -- through the entire program. We would expect it to come off a little bit versus what we saw last year. Again, I want to be clear on that early order program.

Our anticipation is that the combines orders will be higher year-over-year. I just want to be careful with the double digits.

Timothy Thein -- Citigroup -- Analyst

Okay. And just dovetailing on that, Tony, just on the revenue progression for the year in ag and turf, as we move beyond 1Q, the math would suggest that we're going to be moving into a down organic year-over-year change in the back half of the year. What's -- is there something -- that you'd highlight there contributing to that?

Tony Huegel -- Director, Investor Relations

Well, again, when you think about first quarter, remember again, it's the strength of the seasonal -- the spring seasonal equipment, the sprayers and -- sprayers and planters in particular. You're going to see some impact of that in our first quarter. And again, I want to be really careful. As I've talked about last year, when you think about year-over-year changes in the quarter, remember, we're still at pretty low levels especially large ag in the U.S.

and Canada. So as we contemplate the best manufacturing schedules that are going to be for us as we go into the next year, you may see some quarters that are stronger or weaker than you would typically see, at least in the year-over-year comparison. You saw that last year where we had a very, very strong second quarter. Third and fourth weren't quite as strong versus what you saw in the second quarter but for the year, very strong results, and again, that's what we're trying to set up from a manufacturing perspective, what's the most cost-effective schedule that's going to drive the most profitability and the most efficiency for the year.

So you may see some quarterly shifts here and there, but again, it's just us trying to accommodate the increased schedule as efficiently as we can.

Timothy Thein -- Citigroup -- Analyst

Great. Thanks, Tony.

Next caller?

Operator

Our next question comes from Steven Volkmann from Jefferies. Your line is now open.

Steven Volkmann -- Jefferies -- Analyst

Hi, good morning, guys. I actually wanted to ask about smaller ag because it sounded like in the prepared commentary that the mix was a little bit more to the small side in terms of the new product and so forth. And can you just flesh that out a little bit? Or do you think you're gaining share there? Do I have it right that that will be kind of a higher mix in '18? Yes, any color there would be great.

Tony Huegel -- Director, Investor Relations

Today, in our forecast, you're exactly right. As you think about mix, it is actually -- while large ag is certainly strengthening in the U.S. and Canada, the mix is slightly negative for us in ag for the current forecast. Some of that is due as you think about small equipment, the strength of the industry continues to be very high, so certainly not seeing that come off any.

And coupled with that, we do have some new products that will be coming into the market, and of course, that often results in some higher shipments for us versus the industry. So if you look at our shipments versus industry outlook, yes, we would outperform but a lot of that is due to some of that new equipment and filling channel with that new equipment that tends to occur. And so our sales mix will be a bit different than what we would say the mix is for the industry retail sales in 2018. So you're exactly right but I think underlying and I think about strength, continued strength in small ag and some additional benefit for us with new product that's driving that.

Steven Volkmann -- Jefferies -- Analyst

Great. Thank you so much.

Tony Huegel -- Director, Investor Relations

Thank you. Next caller?

Operator

Our next caller comes from David Raso with Evercore ISI. Your line is now open.

David Raso -- Evercore ISI -- Analyst

Hi. Thank you. My question relates to the Wirtgen business, 2018 to 2019. Tony, you made a statement earlier about -- you gave a stand-alone margin, which is helpful, but I think the real number was kind of run rate company with deal amortizations about 11% to 12% margin.

Is that correct?

Tony Huegel -- Director, Investor Relations

That's correct. Yes. So as you think about 2019, that would be the one -- at least again, keep in mind these are very preliminary assumptions. We would expect next quarter to have a lot more specifics that we can share around that, but that 11% to 12% is what you should think about as you go into 2019.

The caution I would give there and maybe the upside to that number is it does not include any assumptions for synergies. So to the extent, we start to see some synergy benefit in 2019, that would be additive to those margins.

Raj Kalathur -- Chief Financial Officer

[Inaudible].

Tony Huegel -- Director, Investor Relations

Correct.

David Raso -- Evercore ISI -- Analyst

I mean that's the genesis. It basically appears if you're doing a 2.5% margin this year and the run rate with deal amortization is 11.5%, it implies there's almost $280 million in this year's guidance that's onetime in nature, inventory step-up, other transactional fees. And then in '19, you get a full year, where you add, say, a month to two months of Wirtgen, that may be a 12%, 12.5% we can swag the synergies as we like, but I mean it's just -- it seems to be implying there's like $0.70 delta from 2018 Wirtgen to 2019 Wirtgen. I just want to make sure we're on the same page.

Tony Huegel -- Director, Investor Relations

No, I would not take exception to any -- I mean, again, you can make the swag on what you think synergies may do but you are understanding that guide correctly [inaudible].

Raj Kalathur -- Chief Financial Officer

David, I think overall, again, I want to reinforce, it's very preliminary, OK? Now what's going well there is the underlying strength of the industry on a worldwide basis for road construction infrastructure, that's strong tailwinds. Plus the market position this entity has, those things work really well. And on a cash basis, it's even better than the 11% to 12% that we talked about.

David Raso -- Evercore ISI -- Analyst

I appreciate that. All right. Thank you. Happy Thanksgiving.

Tony Huegel -- Director, Investor Relations

Thanks, you too. Next caller?

Operator

Our next question comes from Mig Dobre with Robert W. Baird and Company. Your line is now open.

Mig Dobre -- Robert W. Baird -- Analyst

Yeah, good morning. Thanks for putting me in. Tony, maybe you can comment a little bit more about replacement demand? Because obviously cash receipts in your forecast are down sort of commodity prices. And I'm wondering exactly what the trigger is here.

Is it simply related to fleet age? Or is this related to productivity, product introductions? Any help would be appreciated.

Tony Huegel -- Director, Investor Relations

Yes, I think again, and this is similar to what we really have talked about through a lion's share of 2017, as we move forward, certainly, the strength that we're seeing in large ag is not coming from improved fundamentals. We're seeing pretty similar type of receipts and income levels year-over-year, slightly higher in '17 looking at least an initial forecast in '18, slightly lower. That's kind of flattish in both years. But what we are recognizing is that these levels, most farmers are making some level of income, OK? And I think that's one factor that you have to keep in mind.

Certainly, not what they were making in 2012, 2013, but there is some profitability there. You also have the fact that we've gone a number of years at very, very low levels. So the equipment has begun to age a bit, and so that's creating some demand. And it sounds like everything you just said.

We have continued to invest in our business and so we continue to bring efficient new product and new features into the market. That certainly contributes to the desire for customers to step back in. In some cases, it's ways that they can actually reduce some of their breakeven points. If they can get more efficient equipment that's using some of those inputs more efficiently to reduce the breakevens or improve their yield, those sorts of things, again, kind of speaks to the benefit of our precision technologies as well.

So I would say it's a combination of those things. It's obviously going to be different for each farmer in terms of what ultimately is driving them back into the market but that's what's going on with the customer side, and we have a dealer network who has done a lot of hard work to reduce their used inventory and put themselves in a position whereas farmers are willing and interested to step back in the market, they can accommodate those sales today where they would've been much more challenged 1.5 years, two years ago to do that. So again, kind of a wide range of factors that are driving that, but again, we think it's really just underlying replacement demand that we're seeing, and we believe that it's very sustainable as well.

Raj Kalathur -- Chief Financial Officer

The underlying customer economics, I want to reinforce, has been pretty good, OK, not great but pretty good for the last few years as well. Now a couple of things. When people focus on the commodity prices, the cost side of the farmer's equation, that's actually come down nicely, and the other thing that lowers their breakeven point is the yield, the yield has grown. So when the cost plus yield, the economics is actually pretty good for the farmers, not great, but reasonably good, and that's what is pulling this replacement demand and we expect this to continue.

And if the commodity prices come up, then the opportunity opens up even a lot more.

Mig Dobre -- Robert W. Baird -- Analyst

All right. Appreciate it.

Tony Huegel -- Director, Investor Relations

Yup. Next caller?

Operator

Our next question comes from Larry De Marina -- Maria with William Blair and Company. Your line is now open.

Larry De Maria -- William Blair -- Analyst

Hi, thanks, good morning. Just wanted to shift gears a little bit here. And if you could talk maybe a little further detail. Around Blue River.

We know we're [ efficient, ] how you monetize it and maybe some of the financials. I think it was about $300 million deal. And related to that, does the FDA model apply here? Or could we assume that maybe you're willing to take some bigger bets for technology away from SVA model going forward?

Tony Huegel -- Director, Investor Relations

I'm going to be really brief -- again just in the interest of time, to keep in mind as we talked about the Blue River, the interest we have in that company really was around the machine learning technology. That is and continues to be an investment in future technology and so it isn't expected to be a revenue driver certainly in the short term, but there are a wide range of areas where we think that machine learning technology really will take us into that next generation of intelligence. Blue River is the most advanced company in that regard and puts us clearly in the lead toward implementing that in product. But in the short term, again, that's an investment in future technology.

What you see in 2018 and our outlook, it is a cost up and we would expect certainly long term to see some very positive returns from that investment but it's more of a long-term play versus short term.

Raj Kalathur -- Chief Financial Officer

The investment -- returns are going to come in all other equipment where we use this technology.

Tony Huegel -- Director, Investor Relations

Exactly. Yup. Yup. Okay?

Larry De Maria -- William Blair -- Analyst

Oh, got it. Thank you.

Tony Huegel -- Director, Investor Relations

Yup. Yup. And this will take one last call.

Operator

Our final question comes from Seth Weber with RBC Capital Markets. Your line is now open.

Seth Weber -- RBC Capital Markets -- Analyst

Hey, good morning and thanks for squeezing me squeaking us in. Just want to go back to Raj's comment in his prepared remarks about increasing profitability in some markets outside North America. Is there any, you know, granularity around that? Is it a function of better distribution? Better mix? Is the competitive environment changing? Maybe talk about Europe and Latin America specifically. Thank you.

Raj Kalathur -- Chief Financial Officer

If I start with Latin America as an example, it's one that you've pointed. Now one, if we look at where the market is headed, it is going -- growing more in the large ag side, which helps us. We have a more broader base of products that we offer in Latin America and these are large ag type products, planters, even sugarcane harvesters and cotton pickers and sprayers and so on in addition to the combines and tractors. So all of those actually help us now.

The other factor you would think about is Argentina, that market opening up and there is pent-up demand in Argentina that helped us well. But in general, our ability to manufacture locally and successfully grow our share, especially in the large ag side, has helped grow a profitable period as well. That would be one example.

Seth Weber -- RBC Capital Markets -- Analyst

Okay. I mean can you just talk about the competitive environment, though, in Latin America as the business environment has softened a little bit here over the last few months?

Raj Kalathur -- Chief Financial Officer

And again, the competitive environment has always been there. So again, we focus on the areas where we can offer a differentiated product and command a differentiated margin, and that's what we're focused on, and the industry growth has actually helped us.

Tony Huegel -- Director, Investor Relations

Thank you, Seth. And with that, we will conclude our call. As always, we'll be around to take additional questions as we go through the day, and appreciate your time. Thank you.

Operator

That concludes today's conference. Thank you for participating. You may disconnect at this time.

Duration: 60 minutes

Call Participants:

Tony Huegel -- Director, Investor Relations

Josh Jepsen -- Manager, Investor Communications

Raj Kalathur -- Chief Financial Officer

Andrew Casey -- Wells Fargo -- Analyst

Jerry Revich -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

Jamie Cook -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Rob Wertheimer -- Melius Research -- Analyst

Ann Duignan -- JPMorgan Chase -- Analyst

Nicole DeBlase -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

Steven Fisher -- UBS -- Analyst

Joel Tiss -- BMO Capital Markets -- Analyst

Joe O'Dea -- Vertical Research Partners -- Analyst

Timothy Thein -- Citigroup -- Analyst

Steven Volkmann -- Jefferies -- Analyst

David Raso -- Evercore ISI -- Analyst

Mig Dobre -- Robert W. Baird -- Analyst

Larry De Maria -- William Blair -- Analyst

Seth Weber -- RBC Capital Markets -- Analyst

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