As reported in the March issue of Ag Equipment Intelligence, several manufacturers of farm machinery and components registered solidly better sales in 2017 than the previous few years and are looking for more of the same this year.

Kuhn Expects 2017 Sale Upturn to Continue in 2018

After 3 difficult years, a clear recov­ery has taken hold in the markets served by Kuhn, the largest business unit of the Swiss engineering group Bucher Industries.

Despite the arable sector continu­ing to suffer from low and volatile prices and particular caution among growers in North America toward investing in new equipment, Kuhn reported increased sales, a larger order book and bigger profits. Bucher CEO Jacques Sanche reported a 13.5% gain after currency adjust­ments in Kuhn’s net sales from the equivalent of $979 million in 2016 to $1.13 billion, and an operating profit expressed as EBITDA up from $122 million to $140 million in 2017.

“As farmers in Europe resumed investing in new machinery and deal­ers built up their inventories, we saw a 22% increase in order intake year-over-year and a near 16% increase — before currency adjustments — in net sales,” said Sanche.

In Europe in particular, demand for hay and forage harvesting machin­ery, as well as for livestock bedding and feeding, increased in response to higher farmgate prices for meat and milk. Although prices for these com­modities have fallen back in some European markets, Kuhn managers are still optimistic that conditions will continue to improve in the dairy and other livestock sectors.

They expect the rebound to take longer in North America due to low farm incomes, while arable sector prospects generally are marred by high equipment inventories and rela­tively easy harvests. Overall, continu­ing sales growth and increasing profit margins at Kuhn are expected in 2018.

Amazone Sales Increased 13% in 2017

A noteworthy 12.6% increase in 2017 sales turnover was posted by German agricultural equipment manufacturer Amazone and managers say market indicators give them con­fidence to predict further growth this year.

Amazone tillage equipment, sprayers, spreaders and grounds care machinery raked in €457 million — equivalent to $565 million — as continued investment in product devel­opment, an expanded product range and marketing efforts continue to grow its business.

Although Amazone has twice reported larger figures than this — €460 million ($568 million) in 2012 and €468 million ($577 million) in 2014 — revenues are the highest since the group started reporting only turnover produced by manufacturing operations, which excludes some prod­uct distribution activity. Directly comparable sales figures for manufacturing only during these years were €402 million ($496 million) recorded in 2015 and €406 million ($501 million) racked up in 2016.

On the sales front, better-than-expected performance in the currently soft ag equipment market in France, along with strong growth in some eastern and central European states, helped produce the record sales levels. Joint direc­tors Christian and Dr. Justus Dreyer commented, “In the last months of 2017, the climate for investment in agriculture has been positive. The customers’ interest in modern agri­cultural machinery and the demand for our innovations is so great that we anticipate a further increase in turnover in the year to come.”

Horsch Scores Record Turnover in 2017

Following a record year for sales in 2017, tillage, seeding and planting equipment specialist Horsch has started 2018 with a buoyant order book. Last year, sales turnover hit a new peak at €365 million (equivalent to $451.7 million at today’s exchange rates), up 19% on the prior year. In 2003, 14 years earlier, the family-owned business recorded €28 million ($34.6 million) in net sales, breached the €100 million mark in 2008 and €200 million in 2012 before hitting €300 million in 2016.

Expansion into new markets has helped, notably North America, where the Horsch LLC operation at Mapleton, N.D., manufactures and assembles implements, as well as the markets of Eastern Europe, China and, most recently, Brazil.

To meet accelerating demand, Horsch recently opened a new production facility at its Russian operation and the same is planned for one of two manufacturing and assembly sites for tillage machinery in Germany.

There are also plans to expand production capacity in Ukraine — where sales have been “outstanding,” says the company — and Brazil. Exports now represent 80% of sales and employee numbers have risen to 1,600 worldwide as incoming orders for 2018 run at “a high stable level,” according to Horsch.

Titan International Posts 14% Gain for First 9 Months 2017

Tire and rim maker Titan International’s newest board direc­tor is optimistic that the Quincy, Ill.-based group will continue to make sales and profitability prog­ress through 2018.

Paul G. Reitz, president & CEO, was appointed to the board of directors at the beginning of December with the support of Maurice Taylor, Titan’s chairman.

Titan has seen a turnaround in sales over the past 12 months, reporting a 14% increase in net sales revenues over the first 9 months of 2017 after a challenging 18 quarters of decline.

The fourth quarter of 2016 came in level with the year prior at $307.3 million, but the following quarters saw growth of 11%, 10% and 21% cul­minating in third quarter net sales of $371 million and $1.09 billion for the first 9 months compared with $958.2 million for the same period in 2016.

Reitz commented, “Our top line growth of over 21% includes improve­ments beyond this amount within both our agricultural and earthmov­ing/construction segments. We con­tinue to see the benefits of our strate­gic investments over the past couple of years and to win new business in our aftermarket channels.

“In general, the North American OEM market remains challenging with lower volumes and tougher pric­ing, but we are encouraged by signs of stronger end markets that should provide some long awaited tailwinds heading into 2018.”