The revival in grain prices may take time to revive
agricultural equipment, if AgJunction is a barometer, with the farming
technology group AgJunction warning that its first-quarter earnings growth will
fall short of investors' expectations.
The maker of satellite guidance and mapping technology, and
soil analysis group, cautioned of "general softness" within its market, reflecting
the tumble in grain prices which drove corn and wheat futures sharply lower in
late 2013, to three-year lows in Chicago in January.
While values have subsequently staged a partial recovery, "weaker
grain prices in 2013 may have tempered market strength typically experienced in
the first part of the [calendar] year," the company said.
The group said that while its earnings for the first three months
of 2014 would exceed those of the previous quarter, when it scraped $6,000 back
into the black, its results would "trail" those of the January-to-March period
Investors had been expecting the group, which reported
earnings of $1.47m for the first quarter of 2013, to near-double profits, to
$2.77m, in the current period.
Sales to tractor
Kansas-based AgJunction, formerly Hemisphere GPS's agriculture
division, attributed the "earnings growth" during the last three months of last
year, that is, compared with a loss of $29.3m
in the same period of 2012, on a strong period for its international operations.
Sales outside North America jumped 160% to overtake those in
the home region.
European revenues soared 180%, as efforts bore fruit to sell
the group's equipment to farm equipment makers for installation in new machinery,
rather than AgJunction relying on sales to farmers themselves.
Indeed, Rick Heiniger, the group's chief executive, said
that "we believe our global markets are generally making a transition from
aftermarket to OEM [original equipment manufacturer] for core precision agriculture
"We are working closely with our current and new OEM
partners to support this trend."
Overall sales rose 37% to 160%.