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Caterpillar Moving Ground in Emerging Markets

Caterpillar is focusing on emerging markets for increased earnings and sales, rather than the US, CEO Jim Owens told CNBC Monday. The company posted better-than expected first-quarter earnings, swinging from a year-ago loss.

“I think the business confidence in that area is very strong,” said Owens, who is retiring and will be succeeded by Doug Oberhelman in the next quarter. Owens said the world’s largest maker of earth-moving equipment is prospering in Asia, Latin America, Brazil, the west coast of South America, the Middle East, South Africa and Russia.

Exports will rise 65 percent this year, Owens related in a meeting at the White House last week. That will amount in an additional 3,000 jobs at Caterpillar to support that growth and another 9,000 to 10,000 jobs among its direct suppliers.

The company also raised its sales forecast for 2010. A range in between $38 billion to $42 billion is the new estimate, Owens said, which is up 23 percent to 25 percent from “very depressed 2009 levels.”

Owens expects US growth of between 3 percent to 3.5 percent in 2010 but added he eventually sees "a nice economic recovery."