The following video is part of our "Motley Fool Conversations" series, in which consumer-goods editor and analyst Austin Smith discusses topics around the investing world.

In today's edition, Austin discusses three things investors need to watch if they're invested in, or considering an investment in, top Dow stock Caterpillar. The heavy-equipment manufacturer had a middling 2011, but it's off to the races in 2012. That's just one of the reasons we recently named it our "Top Dow Stock of 2012" in The Motley Fool's recent Dow-themed March Madness tournament. 

So what should investors be watching if they're considering an investment in CAT today? The macro economy, recent acquisitions, and the company's engine divisions are three at the top of Austin's list. While not an exhaustive accounting of all the factors affecting Caterpillar today, these are definitely three that you'll want to keep your eye on.

Caterpillar, like many other American companies, realizes that its most impressive growth in the future won't be coming from our shores, that's why it's underlined China as a crucial market in the future. To learn about more companies that are going abroad in a big way, you can read "3 Companies Set to Dominate the World." The report won't be available forever, so we invite you to enjoy a free copy today. You can access it by clicking here. Enjoy, and Fool on!

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.