Caterpillar has record 3Q sales, though profit dips

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Caterpillar Inc. reported record third-quarter sales and revenues of nearly $13 billion, 13 percent higher than the $11.4 billion reported in the 2007 quarter.

“We are pleased to have set a new third-quarter sales and revenues record, particularly considering the recessionary conditions in North America and growing weakness in Europe and Japan,” chairman and CEO Jim Owens said in a statement. “Demand in emerging markets and commodity prices at levels that encourage investment in mining and energy have helped offset negative economic conditions in much of the developed world.”

Despite the revenue increase, Caterpillar reported a 6 percent drop in profit to $868 million, from $927 million, in the year-ago quarter, and profit per share of $1.39, compared to $1.40 per share in 2007. The decrease was the result of higher manufacturing costs, primarily for materials.

“We expected that material and freight costs would increase in the second half of 2008, and they did in the third quarter,” said Owens. “Higher material costs, especially for steel, were the most significant headwind we faced in the quarter.”

For the 2008 total, Caterpillar expects sales and revenues to top $50 billion, up from $44.958 billion in 2007, and profits of about $6 per share, up from $5.37 per share in 2007. The company’s outlook for 2009 calls for sales and revenues to be about flat with 2008.

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