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CNH slashes machinery output as ag downturn bites

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CNH Industrial revealed it had halved production of some arable farm equipment as it cut its forecast for agricultural machinery industry sales this year, and unveiled a 56% slump in its own profits in the sector.

The group - which makes Case and New Holland farm equipment, besides Iveco trucks and Heuliez buses - said that it had slashed production hours at its agricultural machinery factories by 40% in the January-to-March period, amid "unfavourable" market conditions "in all regions".

The reduction in output hours - bigger than the 21% revealed earlier this week by rival Agco, the maker of Fendt and Massey Ferguson equipment – was reflected in the main in reduced production of the machinery used by row crop farmers, from whom orders have been particularly slow.

CNH cut its production of large tractors during the January-to-March quarter by 34%, year on year, and of combines by 41%.

Its output of sprayers plunged by 49%.

Shrinking markets

The cutbacks came in the face of world markets which have seen a 14% drop in tractor sales in the January-to-March period, compared with that a year before, while industry sales of combines dropped by 26%.

In the tractor segment, declines have been particularly steep, also of 26%, in the higher horsepower vehicles used by growers, whose willingness to spend has been curtailed by the dent to profits from lower crop prices.

CNH forecast the decline continuing, revising to 20-25%, from 15-20%, its estimate for the drop in industry sales of higher horsepower tractors this year.

It also ditched ideas of a flat global agricultural equipment market for 2015, instead seeing sales drop 5-10% by volume.

Falling profits

CNH said that its share of the shrinking world combine and tractor markets had risen in the quarter.

Nonetheless, its farm equipment sales fell by 31% to $2.58bn, and sector operating profits by 56% to $204m.

Group earnings dropped by 78% to $23m, on revenues down 21% at $5.96bn.

While CNH cut to $26bn-27bn, from $28bn, its forecast for full year sales, it said that the revision reflected changes in exchange rates, with the dollar that it reports in having risen against most currencies for most of the year so far.

CNH shares stood 0.1% higher at E7.865 in late deals in Milan.


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