Caterpillar Inc. reported profit per share of $1.31 in the first quarter of 2013, down from first-quarter 2012 profit per share of $2.37. First-quarter 2013 sales and revenues were $13.210 billion, a decline from $15.981 billion in the first quarter of 2012. Profit was $880 million in the first quarter of 2013, compared with $1.586 billion in the first quarter of 2012.
“In our year-end 2012 financial release, we said the first quarter of 2013 would be challenging, and it certainly was,” said Caterpillar Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Doug Oberhelman. “As expected, inventory changes were a major factor. Caterpillar and our dealers usually add inventory in the first quarter to prepare for higher end-user demand in the spring and summer. In the first quarter of 2012, we added about $2 billion to inventory, but this year, we cut inventory by about a half billion dollars. In the first quarter of 2012, Cat dealers added machine inventory of about $875 million, and this year, they reduced machine inventory by about $700 million. Those are significant year-to-year swings, and coupled with moderating end-user demand, resulted in sales and revenues being down 17 percent.
“Considering the magnitude of the decline in sales and production, I am very pleased with our performance in the first quarter," Oberhelman continued. “We did a good job managing costs and made even more progress on inventory reduction. Operating cash flow was a highlight in the quarter and improved nearly $900 million from the first quarter of 2012. Better cash flow and the strength of our balance sheet are enabling us to resume stock repurchases.”
Caterpillar revised its outlook for 2013 to reflect sales and revenues in a range of $57 to $61 billion, with profit per share of about $7.00 at the middle of the sales and revenues outlook range. The previous outlook for 2013 sales and revenues was a range of $60 to $68 billion and profit per share of $7 to $9.
“What’s happening in our business and in the economy overall is a mixed picture. Conditions in the world economy seem relatively stable, and we continue to expect slow growth in 2013,” said Oberhelman.
“As we began 2013, we were concerned about economic growth in the United States and China and are pleased with the relative stability we have seen so far this year. In the United States, we are encouraged by progress so far and are becoming more optimistic on the housing sector in particular. In China, first quarter economic growth was slightly less than many expected, but in our view, remains consistent with slow growth in the world economy. In fact, our sales in China were higher in the first quarter of 2013 than they were in the first quarter of 2012, and machine inventories in China have declined substantially from a year ago,” said Oberhelman.
“We have three large segments: Construction Industries; Power Systems; and Resource Industries, which is mostly mining. While expectations for Construction Industries and Power Systems are similar to our previous outlook, our expectations for mining have decreased significantly. Our revised 2013 outlook reflects a sales decline of about 50 percent from 2012 for traditional Cat machines used in mining and a decline of about 15 percent for sales of machines from our Bucyrus acquisition,” said Oberhelman.
“From an operational standpoint, we have taken action to align production, costs and capital expenditures with the sales and revenues outlook. While 2013 will be a challenging year, we are confident about the long-term prospects for our business, and when conditions improve, the steps we have taken will position us well to serve our customers and deliver better financial results,” added Oberhelman.