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Caterpillar (CAT) Q1 Earnings Down Y/Y on Weak Markets

Caterpillar Inc. CAT is one of the well-known names in the construction and mining machinery industry with a market capitalization of $45.8 billion.  It is a leading exporter in the U.S. with more than half of its sales being generated outside the country.

Caterpillar reported a 13% decline in its global retail sales for the three months ended Mar 2016, following the decline of 21% in Feb and 15% in Jan. In fact, this was the worst three-monthly performance in 2015, which witnessed an average decline of 16%. This does not bode well for its first quarter 2016 performance. Caterpillar’s results for the past few quarters have borne the brunt of a weak mining industry, low oil prices, stronger U.S. dollar and China's economic woes. Continued weakness in agriculture have also negatively impacted sales. It remains to be seen whether improvement in construction and cost reduction can provide some respite to this ailing mining and equipment behemoth.

Investors are thus awaiting Caterpillar’s results as it has long been considered a bellwether of national and global economic strength. Let’s have a quick look at the first quarter release of this Peoria, Illinois-based construction and mining equipment manufacturer.

Estimate Trend & Surprise History : Investors should note that over the last 60 days , the Zacks Consensus Estimate has moved south 40%. However over the past week and month, the earnings estimate has edged up 2%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings for the quarter is pegged at 67 cents per share.

Caterpillar has beaten the Zacks Consensus Estimate in all of the last four quarters with an average positive surprise of 11.66%.

Earnings In Line with Estimates: Caterpillar raked in adjusted earnings of 67 cents per share, in line with the Zacks Consensus Estimate. Earnings came within the company’s guidance of 65 and 70 cents per share but declined 68% year over year, reflecting continued tough market conditions in many of the company's businesses.

Revenues Falls Short of Estimates: Caterpillar reported revenues of $9.46 billion, falling short of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $9.50 billion.

Developments to Note: For 2016, Caterpillar now expects revenues in the range of $40 to $42 billion with a midpoint of $41 billion. The company’s previous outlook was a range of $40 to $44 billion with a midpoint of $42 billion. Lower transportation sales (rail, marine and the ending of production of on-highway vocational trucks), lower mining sales and weaker price realization led to the trimming of the guidance. Due to the drop in revenues, Caterpillar now projects earnings (excluding restructuring costs) in the range of $3.70 per share, down from the previous guidance of $4.00 per share.

Zacks Rank: Currently, Caterpillar has a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell). However, this could change following Caterpillar’s earnings report which was just released.

Market Reaction: Caterpillar shares fell 1.47% in pre-market trading.

Check back later for our full write up on this Caterpillar earnings report later!

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