Caterpillar (CAT - Get Report) on Wednesday reported better-than-expected first-quarter earnings on strong sales of its machinery and equipment, a sign that Chinese tariffs and a general economic slowdown aren't having as negative an impact as perceived.
The Deerfield, Illinois-based component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average said it earned $1.88 billion, or $2.94 an adjusted share, compared with $1.66 billion, or $2.82 an adjusted share, in the comparable year-earlier quarter. Analysts polled by FactSet had been expecting earnings of $2.83 a share.
Sales came in at $13.5 billion, above last year's $12.9 billion and higher than consensus estimates of $13.3 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company posted earnings of $2.82 a share on sales of $12.9 billion.
The results from Caterpillar, an economic bellwether, add to signs that industrial earnings are holding up in the face of the U.S.-China trade war and worries that some end users may be reaching the peaks in their growth cycles. The company is benefiting from rising capital investment in mining. That's helping offset the impact of slowing economies that could cut into its construction and transportation businesses.
Separately, the company raised its per-share profit outlook between $12.06 and $13.06 a share, and said its expectations for full-year 2019 performance are unchanged.
However, not all analysts and investors agree with the company's rosy outlook. Deutsche Bank analyst Chad Dillard Dillard earlier this month cut his rating on the shares to hold from buy with a $128 price target on expectations that slower global growth could dent the Caterpillar's order book over the near term.
Caterpillar's order backlog at the end of the fist quarter was $16.9 billion, up roughly $400 million from its fourth-quarter backlog of $16.5 billion and $300 million from where it was a year ago.
Shares of Caterpillar were down 2.3% to $138.78 on Wednesday.
Caterpillar is widely considered a proxy for the global economy.