Another Layoff Shock: Caterpillar (CAT) To Cut 20,000

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Caterpillar (CAT) said it had a good year in 2008 and even a reasonable fourth quarter. But, its prospects for this year are so bad that it will dump 20,000 people, an astonishing number.

CAT released sales and revenues of $51.3 billion for 2008, up 14% from 2007. Profit per share was $5.66, up 5%. After tax profit of $3.5 billion was about flat with 2007. The company also reported record fourth-quarter sales of $12.9 billion, 6% higher than the fourth quarter of 2007. Profit per share for the quarter was $1.08, down 28% from the fourth quarter of 2007.

CAT admitted that it could not even call the depth of the recession. The company said "Global economic conditions and key commodity prices have continued to decline significantly. Financial markets remain under stress, and our expectations for 2009 have deteriorated. Uncertainty around the depth and duration of this recession makes it very difficult to forecast sales and revenues."

If layoffs of this magnitude continue, unemployment will be 9% going into the second quarter.

Douglas A. McIntyre