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Costs Worsen Cat's Wounds

Updated from 11:49 a.m. EDT

Caterpillar's (CAT) troubles are about more than gloom in the U.S. economy.

The construction-equipment maker disappointed Wall Street Friday with its third-quarter profit report and domestic economic outlook, even as strong demand from overseas markets continued to fuel the company's growth.

But while developing economies like China and India are carrying the day for many multinational corporations amid the U.S. housing slump, analysts say Caterpillar is having problems with its supply chain that its competitors are not.

"Caterpillar is burdened with high expansion costs and supply chain problems," says Alexander Blanton, an analyst with Ingalls & Snyder. "They should have anticipated this years ago. Caterpillar could have done better in terms of anticipating the supply crunch. It's costing them money and hurting their margins."

For the third quarter, Cat earned $927 million, or $1.40 a share, up from last year's $769 million, or $1.14 a share. Analysts, however, were looking for earnings per share of $1.43 in the most recent period.

The report marked the second profit miss in a row for Caterpillar. In July, the company posted a 21% drop in profits , blaming many of the same factors it did in its latest report.

While the third-quarter profit was below Wall Street targets, revenue actually exceeded estimates, signaling that higher costs were a factor for the miss. Revenue rose 9% from a year earlier to $11.44 billion, compared with analysts' target of $11.19 billion.

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