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Caterpillar Tops Earnings Estimate on Construction Equipment Surge

CEO Jim Umpleby said Caterpillar is "proactively managing supply chain risks" following a stronger-than-expected first quarter.

Caterpillar Inc.  (CAT) - Get Caterpillar Inc. Report posted much stronger-than-expected first quarter earnings Thursday thanks to a surge in construction sales and said it was managing 'supply chain risks" heading into the spring months. 

Caterpillar said adjusted profits for the three months ending in March were pegged at $2.87 per share, up 48% from the same period last year and well ahead of the Street consensus forecast of $1.94 per share. Group revenues, Caterpillar said, rose 12% to $11.9 billion, a figure that again bested analysts' estimates of a $11.1 billion tally.

Operating profit margin was 15.3% for the quarter, rising from 13.2% in the previous three month period, Caterpillar said, and noted it ended the quarter with $11.3 billion in cash.

 "I'm proud of our global team's strong performance as they continue to serve our customers," said CEO Jim Umpleby. "We're encouraged by improving conditions in our end markets and are proactively managing supply chain risks. Our dedicated team continues to execute our strategy for long-term profitable growth."

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Caterpillar shares were marked 0.55% lower in early trading immediately following the earnings release to change hands at $231.00 each, a move that would trim the stock's year-to-date gain  to around 27%. 

Latin American sales for the rolling three-month period were up 54%, Caterpillar said, while world machines sales were up 13%. That offset a 1% decline in rolling three-month sales in North America. 

Construction sales were up 27% to $5.46 billion, Caterpillar said, while resource, energy and transportation sales were up 6.5% to $2.216 billion.