What to Watch For in Caterpillar's Q1

Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) is set to report its first-quarter financial results before the markets open on Tuesday. The consensus estimates are $2.08 in earnings per share (EPS) on $11.98 billion in revenue. In the same period of last year, the company said it had $1.28 in EPS and $9.82 billion in revenue.

Caterpillar benefited from a better global economy last year. Machinery orders rose, and the company got somewhat of a further boost from the recent changes to U.S. tax laws. Because U.S. companies can now expense certain capital purchases and a proposal to spend big on the nation’s infrastructure is reportedly on its way from the president’s desk, Caterpillar’s outlook for 2018 remains generally bright.

But the company remains involved in a major dispute with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service over how it accounts for overseas profits. The company runs virtually all sales and profits through a Swiss subsidiary and pays an effective tax rate as low as 4%, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

The company took a $2.37 billion charge in the fourth quarter related to the recent change in U.S. tax law. Of the total, $596 million was attributed to a change in the value of deferred tax assets and the remainder related to repatriating overseas cash.

With that out of the way, we can expect a strong first quarter.

Excluding Monday’s move, Caterpillar has vastly outperformed the markets in the past 52 weeks, with its stock up 62%. However, in just 2018 alone, the stock is down nearly 3%.

Shares of Caterpillar were last seen up about 1% at $154.95, with a consensus analyst price target of $178.26 and a 52-week range of $95.80 to $173.24. The stock has a dividend yield of 2.1% and a market cap of $92.8 billion.