Heavy equipment giant Caterpillar (CAT) has been swimming against the tide for the past few years, working to sell capital-intense equipment in an environment where construction spending is still far from its pre-recession high water mark. But in spite of industry headwinds, CAT has made leaps and bounds in re-shoring itself for the next few years.
One of Caterpillar's biggest assets is its brand. With its positioning as a reliable, high-end equipment brand, Caterpillar needs to do less convincing than other competitors, and it's able to compete without having to rely exclusively on price.The firm's dealer network is another major asset. Because CAT's 200 dealers are spread around the world, customers who need time-critical service are able to get their costly machines fixed closer to home. Recovery in the North American construction market is one of the biggest boons for Caterpillar right now, particularly as emerging markets haven't been quite as quick to recover their breakneck growth (competition is also a stronger force abroad). CAT hasn't hiked its dividend in a full year, and with stair-step revenue and profit growth over the past 12 months, a boost looks likely for 2013. Right now, the firm pays out a 52-cent dividend for a 2.4% yield - investors should keep an eye out for a dividend increase announcement in the near-term.
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