Caterpillar, the largest heavy equipment maker and fourth-largest exporter in the world, reported record profits Friday. According to Agence France-Presse, first-quarter 2011 profits for the Caterpillar company hit $1.22 billion, a 426 percent increase over the same period the previous year. Sales increased 57 percent to $12.95 billion over the same period.
As Caterpillar goes, so goes the global economy
The Peoria, Ill., company is closely tied to success trends in the global economy, as Caterpillar construction and mining products are used to build infrastructure. CAT construction equipment sales climbed 71 percent over first quarter 2010; mining and resource industry gear sales rose 84 percent; and the sale of engines went up 51 percent.
To let some of the air out of the balloon, however, Caterpillar acknowledges that construction activity in the U.S. and other developed countries “remains weak,” and no more than modest gains are expected in the U.S. and Europe in 2011. The spike in CAT construction equipment sales in the U.S. is being attributed to dealers, companies and individuals replacing old rental equipment and restocking fleets. Such activity accounted for $800 million of Caterpillar’s sales in the quarter.
Earnings per share ‘an all-time quarterly record’
Caterpillar’s price per share shot up to $1.84 after the record first quarter, a 411-percent increase over the 36 cent price in the first quarter of 2010. The average prediction among analysts was $1.31. The construction equipment company’s success contributed to a 2.6 percent leap up among blue chips on the Dow Jones Industrial Average at midday Friday. In order to accommodate the increased demand for its products, Caterpillar has taken on 10,104 additional full-time employees and 10,709 flexible staff leading up to the latest explosion.
In the wake of Caterpillar’s strong showing, not everyone believes U.S. industry and manufacturing are stagnant.
“The industrial sector and the manufacturing sector of this country are much stronger than many investors have perceived,” said Rob Lutts, president and CIO of Salem, Mass., wealth management firm Cabot Money Management.
Strong mining in Latin America
Construction activity in certain parts of the developing world has grown significantly, according to the Wall Street Journal. Latin America was among the hottest growth spots for Caterpillar, as sales increased by 84 percent. According to a company press release, global economic growth has increased demand and price for commodities. Mining activity in various regions, Latin America included, has increased considerably.