PEORIA, Illinois ( TheStreet) - Caterpillar ( CAT) smashed analysts' earnings estimates as sales skyrocketed by 62%. Caterpillar reported fourth-quarter earnings of $968 million, or $1.47 a share, up from $232 million, or 36 cents a share, a year earlier. Sales rose to $12.81 billion. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected the heavy-equipment maker to earn $1.27 a share on revenue of $11.63 billion. "As the global economy continued to improve, the demand for Caterpillar products increased substantially," said Caterpillar Chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman, in a statement. Caterpillar said it expects 2011 revenue to exceed $50 billion and profit to be near $6 a share. Caterpillar earned $4.15 a share in 2010 on revenue of $42.59 billion. -- Written by Joseph Woelfel >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Joseph Woelfel >To submit a news tip, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.