The Peoria, Ill.-based company reported a fourth-quarter loss of $2 a share on sales of $9.6 billion. Analysts were calling for sales of $9.94 billion. A year earlier, Caterpillar posted a loss of 16 cents a share on sales of $11.03 billion.
On and adjusted basis, Caterpillar earned 83 cents a share in the quarter, topping forecasts of 66 cents.
Caterpillar attributed the fourth-quarter loss to greater-than-expected restructuring charges, as well as non-cash charges including a goodwill impairment charge, and charges resulting from re-measurement of pension and other post-employment benefits.
Shares in the equipment company dropped 1.6% in premarket trading on Thursday. The stock has rallied 66% over the past 12 months.
The stock was one of the drivers for the Dow Jones Industrial Average reaching the 20,000 milestone on Wednesday, rallying on the perceived benefits of a Trump infrastructure plan.
"Our results for the fourth quarter, while slightly better than expected, continued to reflect pressure in many of our end markets from weak economic conditions around much of the world," said CEO Jim Umpleby. "I'm confident we are focusing on the right areas: controlling costs, maintaining a strong balance sheet and investing in the key areas important to our future."