Strong demand for construction and mining equipment should boost Caterpillar Inc.'s revenue through next year, even as the health of global economy remains in doubt.
The company's optimistic forecast followed double-digit growth in third-quarter earnings and revenue, which it reported Monday. The robust quarter and outlook lifted the stock price of the Peoria, Ill.-based company by 5 percent, a much bigger gain than the broader market.
Sales and earnings at the company, the world's largest maker of construction and mining equipment, give insight into growth and investment around the world.
Caterpillar, which makes everything from black-and-yellow excavators and harvesters to diesel-electric locomotives, earned $1.14 billion, or $1.71 per share, between June and September. That was up 44 percent from $792 million, or $1.22 per share, a year earlier.
Revenue surged 41 percent to $15.72 billion, and demand for machinery came from across the globe. Developing nations continued to need construction equipment as their economies prosper, while developed countries, whose growth is weak, are replacing older equipment.
Higher commodity prices are attracting more investment in mines and fueling demand for mining machinery.
"Although there is a good deal of economic and political uncertainty in the world, we are not seeing it much in our business at this point," Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Doug Oberhelman said.
Caterpillar expects to earn $6.75 per share on sales of $58 billion in 2011. That's up from its previous forecast of $6.25 to $6.75 per share on revenue of $56 billion to $58 billion.
It thinks revenue next year will increase 10 and 20 percent from 2011 to between $63.8 billion and $69.6 billion.
The company is continuing to add jobs _ nearly 5,000 between June and September alone. As of Sept. 30, it had about 149,000 employees, up more than 20 percent from a year earlier, including staff gained from acquisitions. About 5,600 of those jobs were added in the United States, where unemployment remains stuck at slightly more than 9 percent.
The company's performance was better than Wall Street expected. Excluding its $7.6 billion acquisition of a mining equipment maker, Caterpillar earned $1.93 per share on revenue of $14.58 billion. Analysts polled by FactSet Research were expecting a profit of $1.63 per share on $14.84 billion in sales.
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