Canadian Manufacturing

Global economic funk continues to sting equipment maker Caterpillar

Company has seen revenues fall for three straight years, remains "cautious" looking ahead to 2017



The Illinois-based company said the closure of 5 plants will lead to 670 job cuts. PHOTO: Caterpillar

The company expects the global malaise to continue until the end of the year PHOTO: Caterpillar

PEORIA, Ill.—Caterpillar’s third-quarter profit was essentially cut in half with the global economy stuck in a funk, and the company said that it expects that malaise to extend into next year.

The construction and mining equipment maker lowered its outlook for the year and shares of Caterpillar slipped almost two per cent in midday trading Oct. 25.

Falling commodity prices on the farm, in the mines, and in the oil patch have forced a deep reduction in equipment spending.

The earnings report Tuesday was the first since Caterpillar announced that longtime CEO Doug Oberhelman was stepping down.

Oberhelman said in a company release that there is an abundance of used construction equipment in North America, as well as idle locomotives. Around the world, mining trucks are sitting around being unused, he said.

“Economic weakness throughout much of the world persists,” he said.

Caterpillar announced last week that Oberhelman will step down at the end of the year and be replaced by Jim Umpleby, an executive who has worked at the company for more than 30 years. Oberhelman will remain chairman through March and then retire.

The company’s stock is up about 40 per cent since Oberhelman was named CEO in 2010, but Caterpillar has posted falling revenue for the past three years. Oberhelman said Tuesday on a conference call with investors and analysts that he decided to leave on his own, citing his age.

“There’s no drama here,” the 63-year-old said.

Caterpillar now expects annual per-share earnings of $3.25 and revenue of $39 billion, down from its previous forecast of $3.55 per share and revenue between $40 billion and $40.5 billion. Its outlook is below the $3.53 per share earnings and $40.1 billion in revenue that Wall Street analysts expected, according to FactSet.

Looking ahead to next year, the company expects revenue to be essentially flat. If oil prices remain stable or rise, the company said it may see a more “positive” second half of the year.

“We remain cautious as we look ahead to 2017,” said Oberhelman.

Overall, the company reported net income of $283 million, or 48 cents per share, in the three months ending Sept. 30, down from $559 million, or 94 cents per share, in the same quarter a year ago.

Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring costs, came to 85 cents per share, beating Wall Street expectations of 75 cents per share, according to Zacks Investment Research.

Revenue for the company, based in Peoria, Illinois, fell 16 per cent to $9.16 billion, short of the $9.8 billion that Wall Street had expected.

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