Caterpillar outlook cloudy

Caterpillar posted a quarterly forecast for the first time ever, and the outlook was not pretty. Source: Mining Monthly

Management projected earnings per share of 65-70c for the first quarter, down from the consensus of 93c.

Full year guidance was maintained, but Bloomberg analyst Karen Ubelhart said there were big doubts over whether the manufacturer could deliver.

“With few signs of end-market improvement, Caterpillar may be setting up for more disappointment down the road,” Ms Ubelhart said.

Sales for the full year are expected to come in at $40-44 billion, with the outlook coming amid continued cuts from mining companies.

Taking stock of Caterpillar’s balance sheet, Bloomberg said earnings were far below normal in mining and were heading the same way in oil and natural gas.

Elsewhere, Zacks said the first quarter update was well below its estimate but Barclays’ Robert Wertheimer said the cuts were not a surprise.

The update is the latest bad news from Caterpillar, which last year announced plans to consolidate its business and lay off up to 10,000 workers by 2018.

“Caterpillar’s stepped-up restructuring actions are expected to lead to cost savings,” Mr Zacks said. “However, the slump in oil prices, weak mining, Chinese economic woes, declining backlog, and a soft agricultural sector are persistent headwinds.”