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Caterpillar’s record year blemished by 4th-qtr. charge

Keywords: Tags  Cateripllar, earnings, heavy equipment, goodwill impairment charge, Doug Oberhelman, corinna petry


CHICAGO — Caterpillar Inc. posted record revenue of nearly $65.88 billion last year, up 9.5 percent from $60.14 billion in 2011, and net income jumped 15.3 percent to more than $5.68 billion from $4.93 billion.

But fourth-quarter net income of $697 million was down 54.9 percent from nearly $1.55 billion in the same period a year earlier, impacted by a goodwill impairment charge of $580 million related to accounting misconduct at a Chinese subsidiary Caterpillar acquired in the second quarter. A $2-billion decline in dealer inventories and sharply lower production in the fourth quarter also negatively affected earnings, the Peoria, Ill.-based heavy equipment manufacturer said.

Fourth-quarter revenue of $16.08 billion was down 6.8 percent from $17.24 billion in the same three months in 2011.

“Considering the weak economy in the United States, along with much of Europe in recession and China slowing, we had a solid year,” chairman and chief executive officer Doug Oberhelman said in a statement Jan. 28.

The inventory reduction went as planned, with Caterpillar idling some U.S. facilities after incoming orders slowed mid-year (amm.com, Oct. 22). “Reduced production levels are likely to continue at least through the first quarter of 2013 until inventories and dealer order rates move back in line with end-user demand,” Oberhelman said.

If recent upticks in economic indicators are sustained, 2013 could be another record year for Caterpillar, he said. On the domestic front, “we expect the first half of 2013 will be weaker than the first half of 2012, with better growth in the second half. Overall, we expect the world economy will begin the year with weak growth and improve as 2013 unfolds.”

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