Caterpillar just hit Wall Street with some terrible news about the global economy.
The construction-equipment giant just reported fourth-quarter earnings that missed on profit, though sales just beat expectations.
But the really downbeat part of the company’s report was its outlook for 2015, and in premarket trade following the results Caterpillar shares were down as much as 7%.
In its earnings release, Caterpillar said:
We expect world economic growth to only improve modestly in 2015. The relatively slow growth in the world economy and continued weakness in commodity prices — particularly oil, copper, coal and iron ore — are expected to be negative for our sales.
Caterpillar is often seen as a global economic bellwether, as its equipment is used in mining and heavy construction work around the world.
Caterpillar expects sales to total $US50 billion in 2015, down about 10% from 2014’s sales of $US55 billion.
Caterpillar’s profit outlook also hugely missed expectations, with the company expecting full-year earnings per share to total $US4.75 when excluding restructuring charges, against current Wall Street expectations for 2015 earnings of $US6.67 per share, according to data from Yahoo Finance.
In a statement, Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman reiterated the problems oil would have on the company’s results, and he gave a gloomy outlook on China for next year, saying:
The recent dramatic decline in the price of oil is the most significant reason for the year-over-year decline in our sales and revenues outlook. Current oil prices are a significant headwind for Energy & Transportation and negative for our construction business in the oil producing regions of the world. In addition, with lower prices for copper, coal and iron ore, we’ve reduced our expectations for sales of mining equipment. We’ve also lowered our expectations for construction equipment sales in China. While our market position in China has improved, 2015 expectations for the construction industry in China are lower.
As for the fourth quarter, Caterpillar earned $US1.35 per share when excluding certain items on revenue of $US14.24 billion. Expectations were for earnings to total $US1.55 on revenue of $US14.18 billion. Revenue was down about 1% from the prior year, however.