Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) reported fourth-quarter and full-year 2012 results before markets opened this morning. For the quarter, the heavy equipment firm posted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.04 on revenues of $16.08 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company reported EPS of $2.32 on revenues of $17.24 billion. Fourth-quarter results also compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for EPS of $1.70 EPS and $16.12 billion in revenues.
For the full year, Caterpillar posted EPS of $8.48 on revenues of $65.88 billion, compared with EPS of $7.40 on revenues of $60.14 billion in 2011. The consensus estimate called for EPS of $9.12 on revenues of $65.75 billion.
The company’s CEO said:
From an operational standpoint, 2012 was a very successful year with record sales and profit in a tough economic climate. Considering the weak economy in the United States, along with much of Europe in recession and China slowing, we had a solid year. Our incremental operating profit pull through was very good, we made progress adjusting inventory levels, and our quality and safety indicators continued to improve. … Reduced production levels are likely to continue at least through the first quarter of 2013 until inventories and dealer order rates move back in line with end-user demand. … If the recent improvement in economic indicators continues, 2013 could be another record year for Caterpillar. We expect the first half of 2013 will be weaker than the first half of 2012, with better growth in the second half. However, if, like the last two years, growth and confidence decline in the second half, 2013 could be a tough year.
For 2013, the forecast calls for revenues of $60 billion to $68 billion and EPS at $7.00 to $9.00, compared with analysts’ consensus EPS estimate of $8.54 on revenues of $65.18 billion.
Caterpillar wrote down $580 million of the $700 million it paid in June for a Chinese subsidiary that is now subject to a review of its accounting practices. That cost the company $0.87 per share in the fourth quarter.
Caterpillar’s shares are up about 1.1% in premarket trading, at $96.70 in a 52-week range of $78.25 to $116.95. Thomson Reuters had a consensus analyst price target of around $101.50 before today’s report.