The Toro Co. swung to a loss in the fourth quarter, but the results beat Wall Street expectations.

Bloomington-based Toro, which makes outdoor-maintenance equipment such as lawn mowers and snowblowers, posted a loss of $532,000, or 2 cents per share, in the fourth quarter ended Oct. 31. That compares to a profit of $13,000, or 0 cents per share, in the same period last year.

The company reported net sales of $288.6 million in the fourth quarter, down 15.4 percent from $341.2 million. Sales in the company’s professional segment fell 21.8 percent to $165.3 million for the quarter due to soft demand from golf courses, municipalities and landscape contractors. Residential sales slipped 2.8 percent to $115.9 million.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters, on average, had projected a loss of 11 cents per share on revenue of $294.2 million.

For the year, Toro reported a profit of $62.8 million, or $1.73 per share, in 2009. That’s compares to a profit of $119.7 million, or $3.10 per share, a year ago.

The company reported net sales of $1.52 billion in 2009, down 18.9 percent from $1.88 billion in 2008. Professional sales fell 25.9 percent to $965.9 million, while residential sales declined 1.9 percent to $532.7 million.

Analysts had projected earnings of $1.63 per share on revenue of $1.53 billion.

Looking forward, Toro (NYSE: TTC) said it expects earnings of about $2 per share in 2010 on revenue comparable to that for 2009.

The company anticipates earnings of between 18 and 20 cents per share in the first quarter.

In a statement, Toro Chairman and CEO Michael Hoffman said he believes demand for the company’s products is stabilizing.

“Our outlook in the coming year assumes that declines in our markets are largely behind us, so we’re currently expecting net sales for fiscal 2010 to be roughly comparable to last year,” Hoffman said. “While much uncertainty remains as to the pace and degree of the economic recovery, we are encouraged by our strong customer relationships, continued high level of new products, and the ability to invest in new opportunities. We have taken measures to adjust our cost structure, improve our overall operating effectiveness, and will be more flexible to react to retail demand in the year ahead.”