Caterpillar reports 1Q results

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Caterpillar Inc. today reported a first-quarter profit of 36 cents per share, up 55 cents per share from a loss of 19 cents per share in the first quarter of 2009.

“Economic conditions are definitely improving, particularly in the world’s developing economies. Industry activity and orders are significantly higher than last year and are at record levels in some areas. As a result, we are hard at work ramping up production to meet increasing demand from customers,” chairman and CEO Jim Owens said in a statement.

First-quarter profit was $233 million compared with a loss of $112 million in the first quarter of 2009.

The improvement in profit was a result of lower manufacturing costs, the absence of redundancy costs and favorable price realization. The improvements were partially offset by the impact of lower sales volume and higher taxes, including the $90 million charge related to the recently passed U.S. health care law.

Caterpillar is increasing its outlook for 2010 by raising the sales and revenues range and profit expectations. For sales and revenues, the revised range is $38 to $42 billion. The revised 2010 profit outlook is a range of $2.50 to $3.25 per share.

“We are increasing production schedules and expect sales to improve as we move through 2010,” Owens added.

Caterpillar stock opened this morning at $71.25 per share. Its 52-week high and low are $72.83 and $30.01 respectively.

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