Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT) reported earnings Jan. 26. Here are the numbers you need to know.

The 10-second takeaway
For the quarter ended Dec. 31 (Q4), Caterpillar beat expectations on revenues and crushed expectations on earnings per share.

Compared to the prior-year quarter, revenue increased significantly, and earnings per share increased significantly.

Gross margins shrank, operating margins grew, net margins increased.

Revenue details
Caterpillar chalked up revenue of $17.24 billion. The 10 analysts polled by S&P Capital IQ expected to see net sales of $16.02 billion. Sales were 35% higher than the prior-year quarter's $12.81 billion.

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Source: S&P Capital IQ. Quarterly periods. Dollar amounts in millions.

EPS details
Non-GAAP EPS came in at $2.25. The 19 earnings estimates compiled by S&P Capital IQ anticipated $1.77 per share on the same basis. GAAP EPS of $2.32 for Q4 were 59% higher than the prior-year quarter's $1.46 per share.

Source: S&P Capital IQ. Quarterly periods. Figures may be non-GAAP to maintain comparability with estimates.

Margin details
For the quarter, gross margin was 24.8%, 50 basis points worse than the prior-year quarter. Operating margin was 11.4%, 130 basis points better than the prior-year quarter. Net margin was 9.0%, 140 basis points better than the prior-year quarter.

Looking ahead
Next quarter's average estimate for revenue is $15.85 billion. On the bottom line, the average EPS estimate is $2.16.

Next year's average estimate for revenue is $67.69 billion. The average EPS estimate is $9.07.

Investor sentiment
Of Wall Street recommendations tracked by S&P Capital IQ, the average opinion on Caterpillar is outperform, with an average price target of $113.79.

Seth Jayson had no position in any company mentioned here at the time of publication. You can view his stock holdings here. He is co-advisor of Motley Fool Hidden Gems, which provides new small-cap ideas every month, backed by a real-money portfolio. 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.