With farm and construction equipment markets finally improving, Deere & Co. posted stronger than expected fourth quarter and fiscal year earnings. Net income attributable to Deere & Co. was $510.3 million, or $1.57 per share, for the fourth quarter,  compared with $285.3 million, or 90 cents per share, for the fourth quarter of 2016. For fiscal year 2017, the company posted earnings of $2.159 billion, or $6.68 per share, compared with $1.524 billion, or $4.81 per share in 2016, nearly a 42 percent increase. Equipment sales are projected to increase by about 22 percent for fiscal 2018 and by about 38 percent for the first quarter, year-over-year. "John Deere has completed another successful year as markets for farm and construction equipment showed improvement and our actions to build a more durable business model yielded strong results," said Samuel R. Allen, chairman and chief executive officer, adding that the year's sales and earnings were the fifth-highest in company history. "We saw higher overall demand for our products with farm machinery sales in South America making especially strong gains and construction equipment sales rising sharply. At the same time, the company realized continued benefits from its broad product portfolio and agile cost structure. As a result, Deere has remained well-positioned to serve present customers while making investments aimed at driving growth and attracting additional customers in the future."