Fourth-quarter earnings per share for the construction equipment giant rose to $2.32 from $1.47 a year ago, well above analyst estimates of $1.73. Caterpillar also struck an optimistic note for the year ahead. Chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman said that he expects the company to set a new sales record in 2012, even despite the fact that construction activity in the United States and Europe -- two large markets for CAT -- is still depressed.
Caterpillar continues to expand globally as a way of driving growth. The acquisition of mining equipment manufacturer Bucyrus International last year expanded Caterpillar's presence in the rapidly growing mining segment in emerging markets. According to Bloomberg Industries, capital spending at "major" mining companies is expected to climb 25% in 2012.
Like Caterpillar, other manufacturing companies have been taking advantage of strong emerging market demand. Joy Global
Another positive for Caterpillar investors is its willingness to invest in research and development. The company struck an agreement with Westport Innovations
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Brendan Byrnes owns no shares of any company mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America and Joy Global. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Westport Innovations. 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.