Caterpillar 4Q Earnings Rise

Caterpillar Inc. last week said its fourth-quarter earnings rose amid strong sales of its construction machinery and diesel engine trucks. Net income increased to $349 million, or 97 cents a share, from $305 million, or 88 cents, a year ago.

Analyst’s estimates ranged from 84 cents to $1.03 a share, with an average estimate of 94 cents, according to Reuters Research.

Revenues for 2003 were $22.76 billion with a profit of $1.1 billion or $3.13 per share. The 13 percent revenue increase was attributed to higher machinery and engines volume of $1.29 billion, a favorable currency impact on sales of $683 million, favorable price realization of $260 million and higher financial products revenues of $211 million. For the fourth quarter, sales and revenues of $6.47 billion were up 20 percent compared to $5.38 billion in the fourth quarter of 2002.

Chairman Glen Barton also credited the continued expansion of Cat Rental Stores and the company’s 6 Sigma program for the companies success.

“We now expect sales and revenues to increase about 12 percent in 2004 over 2003,” said Jim Owens, who took over as chairman and CEO of Caterpillar Sunday. “With this growth, we will continue to focus on cost management and expect 2004 profit to be about up about 40 percent compared to 2003.”

The company’s financing arm, Caterpillar Finance, last week sold $200 million in three-year medium term notes, according to joint lead manager Barclays Capital. Merrill Lynch & Co. was the other joint lead manager for the sale.

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