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Tickers: Feb. 18


Moline, Ill.-based Deere & Co. today announced that profits dropped 45 percent in its first fiscal quarter and said it has scaled back its 2009 outlook and suspended quarterly profit forecasts, the Associated Press reported. The company reported earnings of $203.9 million, or 48 cents per share, for the three months ended Jan. 31, compared with $369.1 million, or 83 cents per share, during the same period a year ago. Revenues slipped 1 percent to $5.15 billion. The company said it expected net income of about $1.5 billion for 2009, below its November forecast of $1.9 billion.

Des Moines International Airport (DSM) announced today that Allegiant Air LLC will begin nonstop service to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on May 24, with service on Thursdays and Sundays only. Flights will depart from DSM at 8:20 p.m. and arrive at LAX at 9:50 p.m. Flights leaving LAX will depart at 2:25 p.m. and arrive in DSM at 7:40 p.m.

HNI Corp. yesterday announced its fourth-quarter profits tumbled 77 percent, mainly due to hefty charges and weak sales, the Associated Press reported. For the quarter ended Jan. 3, net income fell to $8.5 million, or 19 cents per share, compared with $37.5 million, or 82 cents per share, during the same period a year ago. However, HNI said it earned 45 cents per share after restructuring and impairment charges and other special items were eliminated. Additionally, revenues declined approximately 5 percent to $638 million from $668.5 million. For the year, net income slid 62 percent to $45.5 million, or $1.02 per share, from $120.4 million, or $2.57 per share, in fiscal 2007 and revenues declined 4 percent to $2.48 billion from $2.57 billion. Yesterday, HNI’s share price fell 93 cents, or 7.2 percent, to close at $11.95.

According to a study conducted by American City Business Journals Inc., Des Moines was the highest-rated Midwestern market for small-business vitality. Des Moines ranked 22nd out of 100 largest metropolitan areas based on a six-factor formula that includes population growth, job growth, small-business growth and small-business concentration. The two markets with the top scores for small-business vitality were both in North Carolina; Raleigh ranked No. 1 and Charlotte No. 2.

Fitch Ratings has downgraded the ratings of Principal Financial Group Inc. and its subsidiaries, and placed the company on Watch Negative. The downgrades include the insurer financial strength ratings of Principal’s primary life insurance company subsidiaries to “AA-” from “AA,” and its holding company senior debt rating to “A-” from “A.” The downgrade reflects Fitch’s ongoing review of Principal’s exposure to credit market turmoil and expectation of continued deterioration in 2009. Fitch also attributed its downgrade to its concern over Principal’s ability to refinance a $455 million holding company debt maturity that is due later this year.

ING Groep NV today announced a fourth-quarter net loss of 3.1 billion euros and said it planned to cut operating expenses by 1 billion euros in 2009, the Associated Press reported. Last month, the company said it was expecting a loss of 3.3 billion euros, or $4.17 billion, for the quarter. “ING had started the year focused on growth, and we were overtaken by the pace and severity of the downturn in the fourth quarter that eroded our earnings and our equity,” said Jan Hommen, chairman of ING’s supervisory board and CEO-designate.

The Iowa Agribusiness Export Partnership will host a roundtable tomorrow focusing on the opportunities and challenges of exporting to the Middle East. The event is scheduled to run from 8:30 until 10:30 a.m. at the Greater Des Moines Partnership, 700 Locust St., Suite 100, Des Moines. The event costs $10, and registration can be done online. Breakfast will be served at the event and registration is required. Questions may be directed to Steve Ferguson at sferguson@desmoinesmetro.com or by calling (515) 286-4917.

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