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Caterpillar reports 4Q, year-end results

Caterpillar Inc. today announced sales and revenues of $32.4 billion for 2009, a decrease of 37 percent from $51.32 billion in 2008.

Profit per share was $1.43, down 75 percent. Excluding redundancy costs of 75 cents, 2009 profit was $2.18 per share.

Fourth-quarter sales and revenues were $7.9 billion, down 39 percent from the fourth quarter of 2008. Profit per share for the quarter was 36 cents, down 67 percent from the fourth quarter of 2008. Excluding redundancy costs, profit for the fourth quarter was 41 cents per share.

"While the economy in 2009 was the worst our company has experienced since the Great Depression, I'm proud to report that Team Caterpillar responded in an extraordinary way," Caterpillar chairman and CEO Jim Owens said in a statement.

"We delivered solid profitability and cash flow, and dramatically improved our balance sheet," he said. "In addition, we had continued access to debt markets, improved our liquidity position, expanded credit facilities and made a conscious decision to hold more cash. As a result, we maintained our dividend rate, made significant pension contributions and continued to invest in new products and selective new capacity."

Sales and revenues for 2009 decreased $18.92 billion from 2008, and profit of $895 million was down 75 percent from $3.55 billion in 2008. The decline in profit was primarily due to significantly lower sales volume.

Caterpillar expects 2010 sales and revenues to be up 10 to 25 percent from 2009, and profit is expected to be about $2.50 per share at the midpoint of the sales and revenues range.

"We have seen a marked increase in demand for mining equipment - a result of continued strong commodity prices and growing confidence in economic recovery," the company said. "We have also seen improvement in sales of aftermarket service parts, which is usually an early indicator of growing demand for machines and engines."

In addition to increased end-user demand, Caterpillar sales are expected to improve as a result of changes in dealer inventories in 2009. Dealers reduced new-machine inventories by more than $3.3 billion and new-engine inventories by more than $600 million during 2009.

"We're encouraged by signs of improving demand. Dealer sales to end users are up, order rates are up, dealer inventories came down in 2009 and we're seeing stronger service parts sales," Owens said. "We expect 2010 will be a better year than 2009."

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