November Equipment Sales Add to Strong Year-End

North American retail sales of farm machinery in November continued a string of notable sales months, according to the figures released by the Assn. of Equipment Manufacturers.

“U.S. and Canadian large tractor retail sales comparisons remained impressive in November, up 37.5% year-over-year but moderating after the blowout 44% increase in the seasonally paramount October,” Robert McCarthy, RW Baird analyst, said in a December 10 note. But November typically delivers only 5% of annual large tractor and combine sales.

Row-crop tractor comparison remained strong and stable, up 40% in November for the fourth consecutive month. This tractor category includes the largest number of tractors in the 175-plus horsepower range affected by the 2011 transition to Tier 4 Interim emissions standards. On a trailing 3-months basis, row-crop sales have returned to within 7% of prior peaks in 2008 and 1998.

U.S. row-crop tractor inventories remained down (17.7%) year-over-year as Tier 3 tractor inventories disappear, moderating to 96 days-sales.

4WD tractor comparison moderated in November, increasing 25% year-over-year in a seasonally minor month after spiking 62.6% year-over-year in seasonally critical October.

Except for 4 months in 1997, the past 3-months U.S. and Canada sales total is the highest in 20 years. U.S. dealer inventories of 4WD tractors were up 11% year-over-year in October, but fell to 59 days-sales.

Combine retail sales surged 38% year-over-year in November, the fourth consecutive month of double-digit year-over-year growth albeit in a month that typically accounts for just 4-6% of annual sales. U.S. inventories of combines were 11% above October 2009 levels but were flat year-over-year at 36 days-sales.

Mid-range tractor sales increased 13% year-over-year, the second consecutive double-digit positive comparison and only the fifth such comp since the first quarter of 2005.