For Caterpillar, Will Mining or Infrastructure Turn Things Around?

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Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) and Trimble Inc. (NASDAQ: TRMB) announced on Friday that they have signed an agreement to extend their collaboration and increase engagement beginning in early 2017. The aim is “to bring mining customers improved operational decision-making capabilities.”

Caterpillar Global Mining is expected to become the primary sales, marketing, distribution and support channel for Trimble’s Connected Mine platform. Furthermore, Cat MineStar and Trimble’s Connected Mine platform will be integrated and collaboratively developed.

When Caterpillar reported third-quarter 2016 results last week, the heavy equipment firm posted adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.85 on revenues of $9.16 billion. That was down from the adjusted EPS of $1.05 on revenues of $10.96 billion reported in the same period a year ago. The earnings did top the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates, despite restructuring charges of $0.37 a share, but revenue fell short of the forecast.

In its preliminary outlook for fiscal year 2017, Caterpillar said that “sales and revenues will not be significantly different than 2016.” Negative risk is stronger in the first half of the year, but the company said it is “encouraged that most commodity prices important to our business have improved from the lows earlier in 2016.”

Note that Caterpillar is the best performing Dow Jones Industrial Average stock of 2016, despite not seeing a sales recovery take place yet. And it is expected to be a big winner (one of six we recently examined) if serious infrastructure spending begins to take off again next year, as both presidential candidates have promised. Though this won’t be in its major mining equipment sales in the United States or emerging markets, still Caterpillar already benefits from construction spending. Numerous analysts have upgraded the stock based on this outlook.

Goldman Sachs recently upgraded Caterpillar to Buy from Neutral with a $112 price target, the highest analyst target listed, based on margin expansion and an earnings recovery much greater than investors have expected.

Shares of Caterpillar closed on Thursday at $81.27, in a 52-week range of $56.36 to $89.87. Note that the consensus price target is just $80.50.

Trimble shares were last seen at $25.34. The 52-week range is $18.36 to $29.79, and the consensus analyst target is $28.33.