Company credits early spring, growth for a more optimistic outlook

In a sign of a pickup in consumer spending, homeowners are doling out money for lawnmowers once again after making do last year with repairs to the old ones.

Toro Co. on Monday upped its guidance for second-quarter and full-year sales and earnings, crediting "balanced growth" across the business.

Bloomington-based Toro makes and sells lawnmowers, lawn equipment and snow blowers to residential and business customers.

The start of the selling season was strong and one reason for a brightening picture.

Last year, Toro trimmed expenses, including cutting about 15 percent of its work force and consolidating some manufacturing operations. Companywide, sales were down 19 percent in fiscal 2009, which ended in October.

Its fiscal first quarter 2010 results showed some improvement.

Increasing demand is the other part of the story.

At Frontier Ag and Turf in Rosemount, consumers are plunking down $2,599 for a Toro Zero Turn riding lawnmower called the TimeCutter. "They're selling so fast that they're out of stock," said Dan Tsarfati, a salesman at Frontier.

Brisk sales started eight weeks ago, which is earlier than usual. The Toro Super Recycler walk-behind power mower also is selling fast at $499.

Last year, Frontier Ag saw many customers putting off purchases.