Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) reported better-than-expected results for the third quarter this morning, but tempered forecasts for the full year and predicted ongoing difficulty in Europe.

Third-quarter sales and revenue were up 5% from the year-ago quarter. Profit per share in the third quarter was 49% higher than in last year's third quarter, coming in at $2.54, including a pre-tax gain of $273 million from the sale of a majority interest in Caterpillar’s third-party logistics business.

However, the company noted weaker global economic conditions than it had expected in cutting its full-year 2012 sales and revenue outlook to $66 billion, down from a previous estimate of $68 billion to $70 billion. It dropped its profit-per-share estimate to $9.00 to $9.25 for the year.

The guidance given for 2013 was cautious. Revenues are expected to be "about the same as 2012 in a range of up 5 percent to down 5 percent." The company said it expects "slightly better world growth in 2013 with modest improvement in the United States, China and most of the developing world, but continuing difficulty in Europe."

The CEO added that "our sales will probably remain relatively weak in 2013 as dealers are likely to continue reducing inventories." From Q3 2011 to Q3 2012, Caterpillar saw a net increase in its global workforce of 4,600.

John Divine has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. You can follow him on Twitter @divinebizkid and on Motley Fool CAPS @TMFDivine.

The Motley Fool has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. 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.