Cat sales drop 6% in 3Q as global demand fails to meet expectations

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It was a tough third quarter for Caterpillar as the company is reporting a 6-percent decrease in sales and revenues compared to the same quarter of 2018. In response, the company has lowered its outlook for the rest of 2019.

Sales and revenues fell to $12.8 billion for the third quarter while profit per share fell to $2.66. Third quarter operating profit fell 5 percent to $2 billion.

Construction equipment sales fell 11 percent year over year to $940 million, while Resource Industries sales (including mining equipment) fell 25 percent to $311 million. Energy and transportation sales rose 5 percent to $1 billion.

Cat says the primary reason for overall sales dip was a $1.2 billion swing in dealers’ inventories in the last 12 months. Cat dealers decreased inventories by about $400 million during 3Q 2019, following an $800 million increase in those inventories in 3Q 2018.

In North America, sales fell 3 percent to $6.1 billion despite still-growing demand for construction equipment. However, the company saw sales in the Asia/Pacific region fall 13 percent to $2.7 billion.

Specifically, Cat suffered a 29-percent decrease in construction equipment sales in the Asia/Pacific region which fell from $1.5 billion in sales, to $1 billion. Cat says the fall in this region is due to lower demand in China.

European sales fell 7 percent to $2.7 billion, punctuated by a 31-percent decrease in Resource Industries sales to $396 million.

“Our volumes declined as dealers reduced their inventories, and end-user demand, while positive, was lower than our expectations,” Caterpillar chairman and CEO Jim Umpleby says. “We remain focused on executing our strategy and continuing to achieve our Investor Day targets for margin improvement and free cash flow.”

As a result, Cat has significantly revised its outlook for the full year of 2019, dropping its profit-per-share expectation from a range of $12.06-$13.06 down to $10.90-$11.40.

The company now forecasts a full-year sales dip.

“In the fourth quarter, we now expect end-user demand to be flat and dealers to make further inventory reductions due to global economic uncertainty,” says Umpleby. “Caterpillar’s improved lead times, along with these dealer inventory reductions, will enable us to respond quickly to positive or negative developments in the global economy in 2020. We are expanding our offerings and investing in services, including digital capabilities, to drive long-term profitable growth, while continuing to achieve our Investor Day targets for improved financial performance.”