Despite a tough market on Wednesday, Deere & Co. (NYSE: DE) put together a solid performance, gaining 3% on the day, thanks largely to a surprisingly solid earnings report for the quarter ended April 30.

Deere chalked up net quarterly earnings of $547.5 million, or $1.28 per share, that's against $472.3 million, or $1.11 per share, for the comparable quarter a year ago. The results for the most recent quarter would have been even higher, but for a $129.5 million, or $0.30 per share, charge for the adoption of the U.S. health-care legislation. Analysts who follow the company had arrived at a consensus forecast of $1.09 per share for the quarter, so the reported numbers solidly outperformed expectations.

The company's net worldwide equipment sales increased by 6%, resulting in an operating profit of $988 million for the segment, versus $628 million at this time last year. The quarter benefited from a combination of increased price realizations, higher production volumes, favorable foreign exchange, and reduced raw materials costs. Deere's financial services arm earned $86.9 million, compared with $68.9 million a year ago.

Given its strong results, Deere left its two closest international competitors, Amsterdam's CNH Global (NYSE: CNH) and Japan's Kubota Corp. (NYSE: KUB), in the dust as they watched their American competitor's leap to outperformance for the day. Beyond that, Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT), Deere's fellow Midwest heavy equipment maker, turned in the worst performance among the Dow stocks on Wednesday.

Deere CEO Samuel R. Allen expressed pride in his company's strong results: "reflecting a disciplined approach to cost and asset management and the solid execution by employees of our business model." He singled out benefits from sales of large farm machinery in North America, along with higher construction and forestry shipments.

Looking ahead, as with fellow agricultural heavyweight Monsanto (NYSE: MON), the industry at large is eyeing Latin America for growth. Allen expects our friends to the south to increase farm equipment sales by 25% this year. And despite a softness in Europe, he now anticipate a company-wide sales increase of 11% to 13% in 2010, a boost from a growth expectation of 6% to 8% as recently as February. That increase would result in expected net income of about $1.6 billion, up from a $1.3 billion forecast just a quarter ago.

All in all, I would urge Fools to watch this maker of green and yellow equipment very closely. While a number of industrial companies have demonstrated turnarounds during the past quarter, it's hard to find a performance more convincing than Deere's.

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Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares in any of the companies named in this article. He welcomes your comments. No one can out-leap the Fools disclosure policy.