The company's share price fell $12.49 following the results announcement.
Caterpillar actually posted a record profit per share of $10.26 for 2018. But that did not match with what analysts had predicted.
It seems much of the problem for Caterpillar came from its Construction area, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. Sales in that region fell 4% for the December quarter to $1.48 billion due to lower demand in China.
The Resources Industries segment posted a $400 million profit in the fourth quarter compared with $210 million in the fourth quarter of 2017.
The improvement was driven by higher sales volumes and favourable prices, partially offset by higher material and freight costs.
Indeed, in the Asia-Pacific region it grew sales 41% year on year to $785 million.
Caterpillar chairman and CEO Jim Umpleby said Caterpillar's outlook for 2019 was for profit to increase slightly to the $11.75-to-$12.75-a-share range.
"Our outlook assumes a modest sales increase based on the fundamentals of our diverse end markets as well as the macroeconomic and geopolitical environment," he said.
"We will continue to focus on operational excellence, including cost discipline, while investing in expanded offerings and services to drive long-term profitable growth."