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Caterpillar Tops Q4 Earnings Estimate, But Posts Weaker 2020 Profit Guidance

Caterpillar said it sees full-year profits in the $8.50 to $10.00 per share range, a softer forecast that offset steady fourth quarter earnings.

Caterpillar Inc.  (CAT) - Get Free Report posted stronger-than-expected fourth quarter earnings Friday, but forecast 2020 profits that misses analysts' estimates amid what the equipment maker called "continued global economic uncertainty."

Caterpillar said adjusted earnings for the three months ending in December came in at $2.63 per share, up 3.13% from the same period last year and firmly ahead of the Street consensus forecast of $2.37 per share. Group revenues, Caterpillar said, slipped 8.4% to $13.14 billion, falling short of analysts' forecasts of a $13.4 billion tally.

Looking into 2020, Caterpillar said its sees adjusted profits in the range of $8.50 to $10.00 per share, a figure that missed the Refinitiv forecast of $10.563 per share. 

"We expect continued global economic uncertainty to pressure sales to users in 2020 and cause dealers to further reduce inventories," said CEO Jim Umpleby. "We have improved our lead times and remain prepared to respond quickly to any positive or negative changes in customer demand. We will continue to invest in services and expanded offerings to advance our strategy for long term profitable growth, while achieving our Investor Day targets."

Caterpillar shares were marked 1% lower in early trading immediately following the earnings release to change hands at $134.23 each, trimming its six-month gain to around 2%. 

Caterpillar said construction industry sales fell 12% from last year to $5.2 billion, while resource equipment sales slumped 14% to $2.4 billion. Energy and Transportation sales, Caterpillar said, were 5% lower at $5.95 billion.