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Caterpillar reports 3Q results

Caterpillar Inc. today reported higher third-quarter revenue and profits and provided an optimistic outlook for full-year results.

The company said sales and revenues totaled $13.549 billion for the quarter that ended Sept. 30, compared with $13.423 billion in the quarter a year earlier. Energy & Transportation’s sales were higher, but Resource Industries’ sales declined.

Profit for the quarter was $1.01 billion, or $1.63 a diluted share, compared with $946 million, or $1.45 a share, a year earlier. Excluding restructuring costs, profit for the 2014 quarter was $1.72 a share. The restructuring costs totaled $81 million, or 9 cents a share.

“We’re pleased with the third-quarter profit improvement, considering world economic growth remains slower than we’d like,” Caterpillar chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman said in a statement. “We’ve continued to focus on what we can control — cost management and operational execution. We continue on a lean manufacturing journey and are focused on improving safety, quality, efficiency and inventory turns. We’re making progress and it is beginning to be reflected in our results.

“The diversity of the businesses we’re in and the strengthening of our operational performance have been key to helping us improve results and our competitive position in this weak economic recovery. Our broad geographic reach and manufacturing footprint help mitigate the impact of currency fluctuations. In fact, currency impacts were positive in the third quarter.

“In addition to the profit improvement, we have a strong balance sheet and through the first nine months of the year, we’ve had good cash flow. So far this year, we’ve returned value to our stockholders by repurchasing $4.2 billion of Caterpillar stock and raising our quarterly dividend by 17 percent.

“We are confident that, when we see more significant economic growth around the world, our consistent focus on operational performance will have prepared us to deliver even better results.”

The company now expects 2014 sales and revenues to be about $55 billion, the middle of the previous outlook range of $54 billion to $56 billion. With sales and revenues at $55 billion, the revised profit outlook is $6 a share — $6.50 a share, excluding $450 million of restructuring costs.

Despite cautious optimism for improved global economic growth, the company said significant risks and uncertainties remain that could temper growth in 2015. The company’s preliminary outlook for next year expects sales and revenues to be flat to slightly up from this year.

As previously announced, the company repurchased $2.5 billion of Caterpillar common stock during the third quarter this year. This repurchase is part of a $10 billion stock repurchase authorization the board approved in the first quarter.

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