You may have noticed a trend in this still young earnings season: Several companies -- including oilfield services providers Halliburton (NYSE: HAL) and Weatherford (NYSE: WFT) -- have reported solid results, only to watch their share prices become ill-treated on release day.

Perhaps the most surprising victim of this treatment was Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT), the world's biggest manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, along with diesel and natural gas engines. For the quarter, the company turned in a 96% year-over-year jump in income to $792 million, or $1.22 a share, versus $404 million, or $0.64 per share, in the same quarter of 2009. Further, its sales climbed by 53% to $11.13 billion.

Analysts had expected earnings of $1.09 per share on $10.65 billion in sales.

But despite significantly topping these expectations, the company's shares lost $0.99, or 1.2%, in a moderately improved market on Thursday. However, shares of Amsterdam-based CNH Global (NYSE: CNH), a smaller competitor of Caterpillar, which also posted a sound quarter on Thursday, were pushed higher by $1.35, or 3.3%. The contradictory treatment may relate to a prediction from Mike DeWalt, Caterpillar's investor relations director, that 2011 sales would be slanted toward lower-margin machines rather than higher profitability engines.

Demand for Caterpillar's products and services differed in the quarter, with developing countries like China, Indonesia, and India representing half of the increase in machinery sales volumes. But looking closer to home, Doug Oberhelman, who became the company's CEO after the close of the second quarter noted that while management expects economic growth in the United States, "the recovery is weaker than we've seen historically ..." He also said that:

We encourage government policymakers to advance pro-business initiatives and a growth agenda. In addition, they should avoid policy decisions that may create trade tensions between the United States and other key trading partners and avoid tax policy that puts U.S. multinationals, like Caterpillar, at a competitive disadvantage.

All in all, however, Oberhelman and his colleagues clearly are becoming increasingly optimistic about their company's direction. As such, they raised their 2010 earnings expectations to $3.80 to $4.00, up from an earlier $3.15 to $3.85. Further, they're now looking for 2011 revenues near $50 billion, a healthy hike from their $41 billion to $42 billion expectation for this year.

We'll have to wait a month for quarterly results from Deere & Co. (NYSE: DE) to provide us with an expanded perspective on global machinery and equipment demand. In the meantime, and despite Thursday's irascible market, I'm impressed by the obvious progress at Caterpillar.

Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned. The Fool has established a bear put spread position on Caterpillar. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.