A general air of despondency is hanging over much of the machinery trade, as the spring sales figures remain below those of the past couple of years.

CNH reported its overall 2023 results back in February when it noted that the expectation for 2024 is that of a 8%-12% decline in agricultural sales.

This follows a healthy $24.7 billion income for 2023, up 5% from the previous year, yet there were signs of a slowdown in the fourth quarter when revenue fell by 2% although the company manged to improve the margin on that income.

Trade figures

AGCO also performed well in 2023, with net sales of approximately $14.4 billion – an increase of 13.9% compared to 2022.

Just like its competitor, it saw a decline at the end of the year of just under 5% for Q4.

For 2024 the corporation is posting an expected nets sales figure of $13.6 billion, reflecting only a modest increase in commodity prices and the suggestion that farmers are coming off the gas after several relatively intense years of investment.

John Deere reports on a different cycle with the end of its fiscal year falling in late October.

Like its two main rivals, it was happy to report a much improved 2023, with worldwide sales of $55.6 billion for the year, compared to $47.9 billion in 2022.

Preparing for 2024

However, it too noted a sound of caution with sales tailing off in 2023, down 1% from 2022, although, with the earlier reporting date, the full impact of the end of year slump will not have been felt.

All three corporations report greater profitability and are promising their shareholders that reducing costs will be a major focus of their 2024 management strategies, rather than increasing sales.

They also noted that it was at the lower end of the power range where the decline in sales was the greatest, echoing the monthly reports from the American Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), which was charting a major fall off in the demand for compact tractors all year.