Caterpillar Withdraws 2020 Earnings Estimate and Suspends Some Operations

Heavy-equipment provider Caterpillar had forecast profit per share would drop to $8.50 to $10 for all of 2020 from $10.74 in 2019. Now, in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, it's withdrawn that estimate.
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Shares of Caterpillar  (CAT) - Get Report fell after the world’s largest construction-equipment producer withdrew its earnings forecast for this year due to the coronavirus.

On Jan. 31, the company had estimated profit of $8.50 to $10 a share for 2020 as a whole. It reported profit per share of $10.74 for 2019 and $10.26 for 2018.

“The magnitude of the Covid-19 pandemic, including the extent of any impact on Caterpillar’s business, financial position, results of operations or liquidity, which could be material, cannot be reasonably estimated at this time due to the rapid development and fluidity of the situation,” the company said in a statement.

“It will be determined by the duration of the pandemic, its geographic spread, business disruptions and the overall impact on the global economy.”

That will hurt Caterpillar’s financial results this year. “As a result, Caterpillar is withdrawing its financial outlook for 2020,” the company said.

It said the pandemic is “starting to impact Caterpillar’s supply chain.” The company is still running “the majority of its domestic operations and plans to continue operations in other parts of the world, as permitted by local authorities,” it said.

But Caterpillar has suspended operations at some facilities and may do so at others if necessary. Caterpillar is scheduled to report first-quarter earnings April 28.

When it comes to broader earnings expectations, as of March 20 analysts on average forecast an earnings decline of 2.9% for the S&P 500 in the first quarter, according to FactSet. But that number will likely grow markedly.

Caterpillar shares at last check were up 1.5% at $106.23.