Caterpillar Shares Gain After Q1 Earnings, But Forecast Shows Caution

Caterpillar posted a sharp decline in first quarter profits, and warned that the coronavirus will continue to hit profits throughout 2020.

Caterpillar Inc.  (CAT) - Get Report posted weaker-than-expected adjusted earnings for the first quarter Tuesday but declined to provide a 2020 profit guidance and cautioned the coronavirus pandemic would continue to impact its operations for the remainder of the year.

Caterpillar said earnings for the three months ending in March were pegged at $1.98 per share, down 42.5% from the same period last year. On an adjusted basis, Caterpillar earned $1.60 per share, which missed the Street consensus forecast by 9 cents per share. Group revenues, Caterpillar said, slumped 21% from last year to $10.64 billion, missing analysts' estimates of a $10.9 billion tally.

The group also said it would temporarily suspend its share buyback program, but remains committed to returning a 'substantial' amount of its free cash flow to shareholders.

"We remain committed to the safety, health and well-being of our employees around the world, and I am proud of our employees and dealers for their dedication to our customers, their communities and each other," said CEO Jim Umpleby. "Our employees deliver products and services that enable our customers to provide critical infrastructure essential to support society during the COVID-19 pandemic."  

Caterpillar shares were marked 1% higher in pre-market trading immediately following the earnings release to indicate an opening bell price of $116.28 each.