Deere & Co. (NYSE:DE) doesn't tend to get the attention that high-flying tech stocks get, but that's not due to mediocre performance. The construction and farm equipment maker has been a strong performer over the past year, and has a lot more in common with those tech stocks than most appreciate.
During this appearance on Motley Fool Live, recorded on Feb. 19, Motley Fool contributor Lou Whiteman discusses Deere's quarter with "The Wrap" host Jason Hall and Fool.com contributor Brian Withers and explains Deere's underappreciated tech credentials.
Lou Whiteman: We're The Motley Fool. We pick good stocks. We spend a lot of time talking about tech companies, high performers, so perhaps when you see a stock up 100% over the last year, up 23% so far in 2021, big deal. Maybe it doesn't make you go wow, but if I told you that that stock was a 184-year-old company, Deere & Co., now maybe I have your attention.
Deere's shares were up; last I checked, more than 10% today after just a really great earnings report. The company beat earnings-per-share estimates by $1.71 per share, and that's almost 80% ahead of expectation. Deere generated net income in the quarter of $1.2 billion. That's more than double the $517 million figure from a year prior. Strength is everywhere right now. We've got farm equipment, construction equipment, small tractors, turf equipment. They're playing the housing boom. They're playing a pretty good cycle in agriculture; they're playing construction. Everything is working. Deere also boosted its guidance for the full year in 2021 by $1 billion to $4.6 billion to $5 billion. Managements is bullish on all of its end markets; it really thinks it's going to be a good year for North American foreign buyers.
So we get back to the original question. Maybe we should think of Deere as a tech stock. It's investing millions in robotics, millions on automation, and for my money, we've talked about this already today, but I see autonomous tractors in the field well before we see robotaxis on the road. The economic incentives are there. The risks are a lot lower having a tractor in a field versus a car on the road. Deere is currently one of the five largest holdings in the ARK Autonomous and Robotics ETF (NYSEMKT:ARKQ), so it's got Cathie Woods blessing as a tech stock as well. When I think of John Deere, I still think of a tractor maker, but perhaps it's time to think of Deere as a tech stock and a pretty attractive one too because they're going well right now.