Caterpillar ( CAT) swung to a first-quarter loss of $112 million, or 19 cents a share, as it recorded charges for layoffs and sales fell 22% during what it called "challenging economic conditions."

The heavy equipment maker recorded a pretax charge in the quarter of $558 million, or 58 cents a share. Without the charge, earnings in the quarter were 39 cents a share.

Revenue in the period fell 22% to $9.22 billion.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected earnings of 4 cents a share on revenue of $8.54 billion.

In the year-earlier first quarter, Caterpillar earned $922 million, or $1.45 a share.

Machinery demand plunged late last year as the global economic crisis intensified and commodity prices fell.

Caterpillar reduced its revenue outlook for 2009 and said it expect sales in the range of plus or minus 10% around a midpoint of $35 billion. At that midpoint, Caterpillar said, earnings would be $1.25 a share, excluding redundancy costs of about 75 cents a share.

Analysts expect 2009 earnings of $1.77 a share.
Copyright 2008 Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.

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