John Deere ($NYSE:DE) missed expectations and the farm equipment maker saw shares drop Friday morning August 16 after disappointing forward-looking guidance on its future in a very uncertain economic environment. Uncertainty in the agricultural sector, its CEO said, is slowing Deere's trajectory, and it is evident in alternative data as well. 

Job postings particularly for the company's sales team are down more than 50% in the second quarter - a negative sign with earnings around the corner. Analysts tracked by Zacks Investment Research are looking for earnings of $2.80 per share, an increase from a year ago, and coming amid a series of misses. 

John Deere may have multiple vulnerabilities to the US-China trade war - at home and abroad. For the quarter, the company's alternative data reflects that job postings in the US fell from 188 to 131, or about 30%.

Because Chinese government officials are reducing and refusing shipments of American agricultural products, the company's US-based farmers are seeing revenue and profitability squashed in the lingering policy spat. And (not shown) Deere is also cutting back in job postings in places like Mexico and China, countries in which it hasn't had more than a couple dozen available roles, but still another signal that America's ongoing war of words with foreign leaders is hurting business domestically. 

Deere shares are down a little more than 3% on the year - but up nearly 70% over the last five years.

About the Data: 

Thinknum tracks companies using 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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