The Toro Co. last week reported net earnings of $31.4 million, or $0.53 per share, on a net sales increase of 4.9 percent to $444.7 million for its fiscal first quarter ended Feb. 1. In the comparable fiscal 2012 period, the company delivered net earnings of $19.9 million, or $0.33 per share, on net sales of $423.8 million. The per-share data for the comparative periods has been adjusted to reflect a two-for-one stock split effective June 29, 2012.

“Our record-setting first quarter, driven by particularly strong channel demand for large turf equipment and the continued growth of micro irrigation sales, propelled us to a solid start for the year,” said Michael Hoffman, Toro’s chairman and CEO. “Our financial performance benefitted from both accelerated sales related to pre-Tier 4 product shipments and early professional end-user demand, along with positive effects of our productivity initiatives.

“The optimistic outlook of customers across our businesses is encouraging, as we prepare for our primary selling season,” said Hoffman. “Barring new economic headwinds, we anticipate the momentum our golf, landscape contractor and micro irrigation businesses enjoyed this past quarter will carry into spring. Recent snowfall across our primary snow markets, including the record-breaking blizzard that struck the Northeast, generated additional revenue for our contractor customers and is helping clear field inventories, thus boosting prospects for our autumn pre-season snow sales.”

In its Professional segment, net sales for the first quarter totaled $329.1 million, up 16 percent from the same period last year. Domestic shipments of large turf equipment were up because of  channel demand. The early successful launch of products from the Astec and Stone acquisitions, also contributed to the professional businesses’ strong quarter. Professional segment earnings totaled $60.7 million, up 44.3 percent from $42.1 million last year.

Toro continues to expect revenue growth of about 4 to 5 percent for fiscal 2013. The company now expects fiscal 2013 net earnings to be about $2.40 to $2.45 per share, and second-quarter net earnings per share of about $1.20.

In other company news, Toro has entered into an agreement to acquire a Chinese micro-irrigation company, subject to applicable regulatory approval and other customary closing conditions. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

“Although small, this acquisition will help strengthen our presence in China, a critical growth market, by establishing a micro irrigation base of operations,” Hoffman said.

Headquartered in Bloomington, Minn., Toro is a leading worldwide provider of turf, landscape, rental and construction equipment, and irrigation and outdoor lighting solutions.