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Nation & World

Caterpillar profit climbs 5 percent

Lou Severino moves dirt with a Caterpillar dozer around a home under construction March 28 in Pepper Pike, Ohio. Caterpillar’s first-quarter earnings rose 5 percent, the company announced Thursday, and the construction equipment maker raised its 2014 forecast.
Lou Severino moves dirt with a Caterpillar dozer around a home under construction March 28 in Pepper Pike, Ohio. Caterpillar’s first-quarter earnings rose 5 percent, the company announced Thursday, and the construction equipment maker raised its 2014 forecast.

Caterpillar’s first-quarter earnings rose 5 percent, and the construction equipment maker raised its 2014 forecast. But the company also said Thursday that a mining equipment sales slump is still hurting results.

The Peoria company now expects 2014 earnings of $6.10 per share, excluding restructuring costs. That’s up from its previous forecast for $5.85 per share and well above Wall Street expectations.

Analysts expect earnings of $5.72 per share, on average, according to FactSet.

Caterpillar Inc. shares jumped almost 3 percent by midday Thursday.

Caterpillar said it earned $922 million, or $1.44 per share, in the quarter that ended March 31. That compares to $880 million, or $1.31 per share, last year.

Earnings totaled $1.61 per share, excluding restructuring costs. Total revenue was nearly flat at $13.24 billion.

Analysts forecast earnings of $1.21 per share on $13.09 billion in revenue.

Caterpillar also makes power systems that include large electrical generators and locomotive engines.

A downturn in heavy equipment used in mining hit the company hard last year, when its profit tumbled about 33 percent to $3.79 billion. Mining gear generates higher profit margins for Caterpillar than many other parts of its business.

As sales of large tractors and mining loaders slumped last year, Caterpillar closed plants and cut jobs. But strong results in construction and power systems have helped make up for the shortfall in mining.

Caterpillar said Thursday it continued to see low order rates for mining equipment, the main component of its “Resource Industries” business.

“The company expects mining orders will begin to improve at some point, but not likely in time to increase Resource Industries’ sales in 2014,” Caterpillar said in a statement announcing its earnings.

Caterpillar stock rose $2.27, or 2.2 percent, to $105.65 by midday Thursday. Shares of Caterpillar, a component of the Dow Jones industrial average, had already climbed 14 percent as of Wednesday after closing 2013 at $90.81.

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