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Cat climbs on improved outlook

Mining and construction equipment major Caterpillar’s (NYSE: CAT) shares dropped 1.9% this week, after spiking at US$172.80 Thursday, but have climbed 24.6% since mid-November last year and are up 6% so far in 2018 on the back of the improved conditions and forecasts for key markets. Its latest financials underscore the sunnier outlook.
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Staff reporter

Caterpillar's 2017 sales rose 18% year-on-year to $45.5 billion, with the December quarter's $12.9 billion comparing with $9.6 billion in the final quarter of 2016. The company said its 2017 full-year profit was $1.26 per share compared with a loss of 11c a share in 2016.

It is targeting 2018 profit per share in a range of $7.75 to $8.75. Excluding restructuring costs of about $400 million, adjusted profit per share is expected to be $8.25-9.25 a share.

Caterpillar said it was starting 2018 with "strong sales momentum resulting from strong order rates, lean dealer inventories and an increasing backlog".

There were "positive economic indicators across most of the world and in many of the company's end markets". The company was preparing its factories and suppliers to be ready for continued growth.

"After four challenging years, many key markets improved in 2017, and our global team delivered strong results," said Caterpillar CEO Jim Umpleby.

In an analyst briefing the company said most miners had returned to profitability and commodity prices were now generally above investment thresholds.

Mobile fleet utilisation levels were increasing, boosting demand for parts, and the global "parked fleet" was declining.

Mining capital expenditure levels were expected to continue to rebound.

"Caterpillar's results showed strength across the board in nearly every industry for the first time, which indicated coordinated and synchronised macroeconomic growth," William Blair & Co analyst Larry De Maria said in an interview.


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