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Merrill Keeps 'Buy' on Deere

Merrill Lynch reiterated its buy rating on Deere & Co. (DE).

Analyst Steve Haggerty says the first quarter is strong. He says the agricultural equipment division provided the biggest improvement year-to-year, while the construction & forestry division was also a solid contributor. Haggerty notes Deere raised its fiscal 2004 (Oct.) outlook of $750 million to $850 million of net income to $900 million to $1 billion, equivalent to $3.65 to $4.05 earnings per share. Haggerty says this compares to his current $873 million net income, and $3.55 earnings per share estimate.

Haggerty maintains the $72 price target, based on the company's 10-year average trailing enterprise value-to-EBITDA multiples, and valuation on peak earnings.

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