Caterpillar Inc. announced 2015 fourth-quarter sales and revenues of $11.0 billion, down from $14.2 billion in the fourth quarter of 2014. Sales and revenues for full-year 2015 were nearly 15 percent lower than 2014 and 29 percent off the 2012 peak. The two most significant reasons for the decline from 2014 were weakening economic growth and substantially lower commodity prices, according to the company.
The impact of weak economic growth was most pronounced in developing countries, such as China and Brazil. Lower oil prices had a substantial negative impact on the portion of Energy & Transportation that supports oil drilling and well servicing, where new order rates in 2015 were down close to 90 percent from 2014.
“Cost management, restructuring actions and operational execution are helping the company while sales and revenues remain under pressure from weak commodity prices and slowing economic growth in developing countries," said Caterpillar Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Doug Oberhelman. "We took tough but necessary restructuring actions in 2015 – and they were significant. I am proud that our team stayed focused on our customers in this difficult environment. Our balance sheet is strong; our product quality remained at high levels; we gained market position for machines for the fifth year in a row; inventory levels have declined and are well positioned as we look forward to 2016; and our safety levels are world class. We are benefiting now and expect to even more in the future when markets rebound.”
In 2016, sales in Energy & Transportation are expected to decline about 10 to 15 percent from 2015. Much of the decline is a result of low oil prices. During the first half of 2015, sales remained at relatively high levels for equipment used in drilling and well servicing because we started the year with a substantial order backlog. Sales declined during the second half of 2015 as orders from the backlog were shipped and new order levels were weak. That impact, along with the further decline in oil prices, are the primary reasons for the expected decline in Energy & Transportation’s 2016 sales.
Sales in Resource Industries are expected to be down about 15 to 20 percent from 2015 as a result of continuing reductions in mining-related commodity prices and difficult financial conditions for many mining customers around the world.
Sales in Construction Industries are expected to decline about 5 to 10 percent from 2015. In the United States, improving labor market conditions and relatively stable economic growth should continue to support the wider economy and construction.
“Our outlook reflects struggling oil and other commodity markets, and continued economic weakness in developing countries," said Oberhelman. "While the U.S. and European economies are showing signs of stability, the global economy remains under pressure. While we manage through these difficult economic times with substantial restructuring actions to lower costs, we are also preparing for the long term. We are continuing substantial investments in R&D and our digital capabilities. These investments will be positive for Caterpillar and our customers through connected fleets and jobsites and access to data and predictive analytics. Investing in the future is important to improving productivity and the bottom line – for Caterpillar and our customers over the long term. While it is tough to predict when an economic recovery will happen, the investments we are making and the actions we are taking to lower our cost structure and improve quality and our market position will help deliver better results when a recovery comes.”