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Caterpillar (CAT) Revenue Dives 18%, Mining Demand Constricts

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Construction giant Caterpillar (CAT) posted weak sales and revenue for the third quarter and reduced its full-year forecast, pushing shares 4.7% lower in premarket trading on Wednesday.

The company, based in Peoria, Ill., cut its 2013 outlook, citing expected sales and revenue down 17%, or close to $11 billion, from full-year 2012. The culprit -- weakness in the mining sector -- has plagued the heavy equipment manufacturer throughout the year. Estimated revenue in the resource industries segment, namely mining, accounts for 75% of the predicted full-year decline.

For full-year 2013, the company expects total revenue of $55 billion and earnings of $5.50 a share, compared to previous guidance of revenue of $56 to $58 billion and profit of $6.50 a share. 

"This year has proven to be a difficult year," said CEO Doug Oberhelman, in a statement. "Order rates have not picked up much despite continuing strong commodity production. That has caused us to ratchet down our sales and revenues outlook as we have moved through 2013."

Earnings for the third quarter were $1.45 a share, compared to $2.54 in the same period a year earlier, on revenue of $13.42 billion, down 18.4% from the year-ago quarter. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters predicted earnings of $1.66 a share on revenue of $14.32 billion.

Oberhelman said a silver lining is that the company has cultivated a healthy balance sheet for the year to date.

"We're near a record in cash flow, we've bought back $2 billion of stock already this year, our debt-to-capital ratio is stronger than it was before the recession. Our balance sheet is pretty bulletproof right now," said Oberhelman, speaking with CNBC Wednesday morning.

Countering difficult economic factors, Oberhelman said management has taken steps to mitigate damage.

"With $11 billion coming off the top line, it has been a painful year and has required wide-ranging and substantial actions," he said in a statement. "Year-to-date, excluding the impact of inventory absorption, we've lowered costs about $700 million and reduced capital expenditures by about $400 million."

Looking ahead, management anticipates sales and revenue in 2014 to remain flat with 2013, within a 5% positive or negative range, and continued decline in its mining-related businesses.

"There are encouraging signs, but there is also a good deal of uncertainty worldwide as we look ahead to 2014, and our preliminary outlook reflects that uncertainty," said Olberhelman in a statement. "We're not seeing bright spots in mining yet, but the turnaround will happen at some point."

TheStreet Ratings team rates Caterpillar Inc as a Buy with a ratings score of B. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about its recommendation:

"We rate Caterpillar Inc (CAT) a BUY. This is driven by some important positives, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its good cash flow from operations and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income."

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