October 24, 2017 / 11:49 AM / a year ago

Caterpillar smashes market estimates as North America sales rebound

(Reuters) - Caterpillar Inc (CAT.N) blew past Wall Street’s profit and revenue estimates for the third quarter, driven by surprisingly strong demand for its construction equipment in North America and robust sales in China.

Caterpillar Inc. equipment is on display for sale at a retail site in San Diego, California, U.S., March 3, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake

The company’s shares rose as much as 7 percent to a record high of $140.44, helping push the Dow Jones Industrial Average to an all-time high.

The bellwether for the industrial sector posted strong growth across its key businesses, signalling a resurgence in its construction, energy and mining markets.

The company also raised its full-year forecasts for sales and earnings, expecting revenue in its construction business to surge about 20 percent, and mining business to jump 30 percent.

“Caterpillar continues to post results that far outpace expectations,” said Stifel analyst Stanley Elliott, adding that the recovery in the company’s business now seemed to be in full swing.

Profit beat expectations for the sixth straight quarter even after analysts had raised their estimates for July-September period by nearly 30 percent in the past three months. Revenue beat estimates for the third straight quarter.

The construction industry in North America is turning around after years of slow demand, fuelled by a steady housing recovery, an improving labour market and higher spending by oil and gas companies.

Sales in North America, Caterpillar’s biggest market, jumped 27 percent in the third quarter ended Sept 30. Construction revenue in the region rose 31 percent, building upon a 3 percent rise in the second quarter after eight quarters of declines.

Sales in Asia-Pacific jumped 57 percent, their seventh quarter of growth, helped by construction demand in China.

While China has been the bright spot for Caterpillar, the pace of growth in the country’s property sector cooled in the third quarter, potentially hurting demand for the company’s iconic yellow earth-moving equipment in the near future.

Excluding restructuring costs, Caterpillar earned $1.95 per share, compared with the average analyst estimate of $1.27 per shares, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Total revenue rose to $11.41 billion, ahead of market estimates of $10.65 billion.

The company said it now expects 2017 sales and revenue of $44 billion, up from its previous forecast of $42 billion to $44 billion. It expects adjusted earnings of $6.25 per share, up from the $5.00.

The company is coming out of a trough and will have to show earnings of $10 per share annually for any further stock price appreciation, Jefferies analyst Stephen Volkmann said.

“So far, however, it’s fair to say that CAT is providing plenty of reason to keep that dream alive.”

Caterpillar's shares pared some gains to trade up 5 percent at $138.37. The stock has risen 42 percent this year, up to Monday's close, compared with an 18 percent increase in the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI.

Reporting by Rachit Vats and Sweta Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Sayantani Ghosh

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