John Deere ($NYSE:DE) has struggled against market benchmarks for the last couple of years, and the 2020 Coronavirus outbreak and subsequent economic downturn may prove painful for the Illinois-based equipment maker, staff and stockholders. 

So far this year, Deere shares are down about 20%, now lagging indices like the S&P 500. Caterpillar has already reported earnings, completed with a bigger-than-expected dip in sales, which could be a forewarning for Deere shareholders. 

Deere job postings dove 73% from their 2020 peak; contrasted to its primary competitor, Caterpillar, where postings dipped from a 2020 high of 313 before falling to 188, marking a 40% decline (not shown). Caterpillar shares are down more than 23%, marking slightly worse performance compared to Deere. 

While other companies that have big production exposure to China began ramping up operations after the US-China trade war reached a detente, Deere’s postings there have remained minimal. 

In February, reports surfaced stating Deere was temporarily shutting down its China plant after the government asked it to do so to curb the spread of the virus. 

Analysts tracked by Zacks Investment Research are expecting reduced earnings of $1.99 per share when Deere announces results Friday, May 22. 

About the Data:

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

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