Caterpillar is getting slammed by the global economy

Caterpillar announced forecasts for first-quarter sales and profits Thursday that trailed analysts’ estimates.

And it’s all because the industrial-equipment giant will continue to be challenged by global economic uncertainty, low commodity prices, weak demand, and the strong dollar.

Caterpillar shares fell by as much as 3% pre-market. They have rallied 9% year-to-date.

In a presentation and regulatory filing, the company said sales will be $9.3 billion to $9.4 billion, and adjusted earnings per share will be between 65 cents and 70 cents. Analysts had forecast an average of $10.2 billion for sales and 95 cents for adjusted earnings, according to Bloomberg.

Because the company is a massive supplier of equipment for long-term capital projects, its performance is sometimes used as a bellwether of the global manufacturing economy.

Caterpillar and its peers have been challenged by a slowdown in global demand, especially from China, which uses more industrial metals than any other country.

When Caterpillar reported first-quarter earnings in January, it put out a rather bearish outlook for global economic growth and commodity prices, saying it does not expect improvement this year. The company announced it was reducing its operating costs to cope with the slowdowns.

This slide from a presentation company reps made at an industry conference in London Thursday sums up Caterpillar’s challenges:

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