It appears that nothing runs like a Deere (NYSE: DE). In the company's recently reported fourth quarter, earnings jumped 52 percent to $422.1 million, while net sales for the agricultural-equipment and the commercial and consumer sectors both jumped 35 percent. Credit revenue also rose double digits. Only the construction and forestry unit saw its revenue slide, on the basis of the weak U.S. housing market.
The quarter saw Deere's several strengths handily overcoming its sole weakness. Geography was all-important in the quarter. Deere's net sales in the United States and Canada rose a solid 15 percent, but equipment-sales growth in other parts of the world was more than double that.
Deere retains its spot among a steadily expanding list of big U.S.-based companies that have latched onto international growth to overcome slower expansion - or backsliding - at home. That disparate bunch includes fellow equipment manufacturer Caterpillar Inc. and big aluminum producer Alcoa Inc.
Deere's ability to wring growth from a still-strong domestic agriculture picture and combine it with across-the-board increases overseas is rather attractive. With management forecasting continued strength for the current quarter and the newly begun fiscal 2008, the company's stock is worth adding to a watch list. Its recent price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 21 is above its low- to mid-teen averages over the last few years.