Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Caterpillar Stock Pops Despite Plunging Profit

By John Maxfield - Apr 22, 2013 at 3:03PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Shares of heavy-equipment maker Caterpillar are one of the Dow's top performers today despite the company's downbeat first-quarter earnings announcement.

You read that right: Shares of Caterpillar (CAT 3.20%) are up 3% in afternoon trading after the company announced that its earnings fell a staggering 45% in the first quarter compared with the same time period of last year. Caterpillar's stock is doing so well, in fact, that it's the second-best-performing component on the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 1.98%), which itself is fighting to stay in the black, up by 22 points an hour before the market closes.

For the three months ended March 31, the heavy-equipment maker earned $880 million on $13.2 billion in revenue compared to last year's $1.6 billion in net income on almost $16 billion in sales. On a per-share basis, Caterpillar earned $1.31, missing the consensus estimate by $0.09 per share, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The impetus for the decline was twofold. First, the continued economic malaise in the United States and disturbing trends out of Asia are putting a damper on demand for the company's high-priced items. Domestic sales were down 20%, while sales in Asia were down 21%. Trying to put it in the best light possible, Caterpillar's CEO said:

As we began 2013, we were concerned about economic growth in the United States and China and are pleased with the relative stability we have seen so far this year. In the United States, we are encouraged by progress so far and are becoming more optimistic on the housing sector in particular. In China, first quarter economic growth was slightly less than many expected, but in our view, remains consistent with slow growth in the world economy.

And the second impetus has been a dramatic fall in commodity prices, which further affected demand for Caterpillar's mining equipment. With this in mind, the company's 2011 acquisition of Bucyrus International, a company that specializes in mining machinery, appears bittersweet. On one hand, Caterpillar predicts that sales of Bucyrus products will fall by as much as 15% this year. But on the other hand, Caterpillar predicts that its own eponymous brand of mining equipment will see its sales figure cut in half.

With this in mind, the company cut its guidance going forward. It now expects to earn $7 per share this year, down from a range of $7 to $9 per share predicted earlier.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return) Stock Quote
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return)
^DJI
$31,880.24 (1.98%) $618.34
Caterpillar Inc. Stock Quote
Caterpillar Inc.
CAT
$204.15 (3.20%) $6.33

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning service.

Stock Advisor Returns
330%
 
S&P 500 Returns
115%

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 05/24/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.