Farm equipment maker AGCO Corp. (AGCO.N) says it expects sales in 2010 to be little changed from 2009, as continued soft demand in Western Europe and North America offsets better pricing, market share gains and improving demand in South America.

Chief Financial Officer Andy Beck said the company's preliminary forecast calls for 2010 sales to be "approximately flat" compared with 2009, while earnings per share were seen as "flat to slightly improved." The company expects to post a net loss in the first quarter, partly reflecting plant shutdowns.

"Forecasted pricing benefits, market share improvements, and the positive impact from currency will be offset by the softer market demand," Beck told an analyst meeting on Tuesday.

Analysts, on average, expect AGCO to earn $1.76 per share in 2010, up from $1.41 expected for 2009. They estimate 2010 sales of $6.39 billion, down from $6.47 billion in 2009, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company said it expected lower industry sales in North America and Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Beck also forecast price increases of about 2.5 percent to 3 percent and said Agco expects higher capital expenditures next year as it invests in new products and to meet emissions standards.

Last month, rival Deere & Co (DE.N), the world's largest maker of tractors and harvesters, offered a disappointing first glimpse into 2010, saying it expects farmers in North America and Europe to remain cautious because of the unsettled economic situation.