PEORIA, Illinois ( TheStreet) -- Caterpillar ( CAT) earned $1.14 billion, or $1.71 a share, in the third quarter, up 44% from a year earlier as sales reached $15.72 billion, a company record.

Excluding the impact of the recent acquisition of Bucyrus, earnings were $1.93 a share.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected the heavy-machinery maker to earn $1.54 a share in the third quarter on revenue of $15.03 billion.

"This was the best quarter for sales in our history, and our order backlog is at an all-time high," said Chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman, in a statement Monday.

Caterpillar raised its sales outlook for 2011, saying it now expects sales of about $58 billion. The previous outlook was a range of $56 billion to $58 billion.

Caterpillar also lifted its 2011 forecast for earnings: It expects profit of about $6.75 a share; its previous outlook was $6.25 to $6.75 a share. The outlook includes a negative impact from the acquisition of Bucyrus of about 50 cents a share. Without the impact of Bucyrus, Caterpillar expects 2011 profit of about $7.25 a share.

Analysts forecast 2011 earnings of $6.58 a share on sales of $57.92 billion.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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