The release from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers that hit my email in-box looked positive, upbeat really, about farm equipment sales noting that "small-tractor sales continue to bolster overall market growth." The release does note that production equipment sales are still in decline.
The chart on this page looks pretty good for the farm equipment industry, ahead of the five-year average so far this year. A little shout out to the homeowners, hobby farmers and large-acreage homeowners who have started spending again, it's a bright spot. Then there are those of you in this business as a business, that picture is a little bleeker (as the table below shows).
Essentially, under-40-hp tractor sales are on a tear up 33.2% in March and up 26.1% so far for the year. Sales of 40 to 100 hp tractors - those chore-machines popular to livestock producers and hay makers - are also up 10.1% in March and 3.2% for the year.
Business stays soft
But on the higher horsepower two-wheel drive market, the numbers look a little different. In March, sales for over-100 hp tractors fell 18.6% versus March of 2015. And for through March this year (compared to last year in the same period) sales slid 32.9%. Of course, looking at the corn, soybean and wheat price (and projected prices on the futures market) has everyone taking a little breather.
And speaking of "breathers" in the four-wheel drive market sales fell 49.1% in March versus 2015, and are down 38.2% for the year so far compared to the same period last year. Reported inventories are interesting. Based on March sales under-40 hp tractors are at about 9 months of inventory in the field; for 40 to 100 hp the field inventory is also at about 9 months based on March figures. For over-100 hp tractors inventory levels are running at a little over 5 months.
Doesn't mean you'll get a better price based on inventories, and with the bulk of used machines on the market, there are trade-in/trade-up issues in some areas. For bigger machines, inventory levels have been tighter.
For those four-wheel drive machines, inventory is running at about two months, manufacturers really locked down production on those machines as sales slid. The same goes for combines, where inventory is about 3 months based on March sales.
The AEM report is a barometer of what's happening in the real world and it's a long standing report with consistent information reported by the majors. Hard to draw conclusions from this report, but if inventories keep creeping up AND you happen to be in the market there may be some pricing opportunities.