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Caterpillar slips 2% after CFO says company may lose market share in China

Key Points
  • CFO Andrew Bonfield says Caterpillar may lose market share in China amid competitive pricing pressure.
  • While demand in China is expected to grow, Bonfield said the industrial giant expects its construction sales to be "flattish."
  • The equipment manufacturer also reported better-than-expected earnings and revenue.
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Caterpillar EPS, revenue beats expectations

Caterpillar reported better than expected earnings and revenue on Wednesday.

Here's how they did compared to what Wall Street expected:

  • Earnings: $2.94 per share vs. $2.85 per share, forecast in a survey of analysts by Refinitiv
  • Revenue: $13.47 billion vs. $13.40 billion, forecast by Refinitiv

In the year ago quarter, the company reported adjusted earnings per share of $2.82 on $12.9 billion in revenue.

Shares of Caterpillar briefly rose 1%, but were about 2.5% lower in midday trading.

Competitive pricing has impacted the company's construction sales in China, Caterpillar CFO Andrew Bonfield said during a Wednesday earnings call. While demand in China is expected to grow this year, Bonfield said Caterpillar expects its construction sales to be "flattish."

"So we will lose some market share in Q1, but we're taking actions to gain it back working with dealers and also launching new models, which is a key part of the strategy, which we think is the right strategy for us to compete," he said.

For the first quarter, Asia Pacific construction sales fell 4% to $1.56 billion, from $1.63 billion a year ago. Overall sales in the Asia Pacific region grew 9% year over year to $3.20 billion.

The industrial giant also raised its 2019 profit outlook. Caterpillar said it now expects full year profit per share between $12.06 and $13.06, citing a tax benefit of 31 cents per share. Caterpillar said its first quarter tax benefit of $178 million stems from U.S. tax reform. The company previously expected $11.75 a share to $12.75 a share.

In January, the stock plunged after Caterpillar reported disappointing fourth-quarter earnings. The equipment manufacturer, considered a proxy for the global economy, said tariffs and a slowdown in sales in China impacted profit.

For the full year, however, the company posted record profit of $11.22 a share, up 63 percent from a year earlier. Full-year sales also rose by 20 percent.

In February, UBS gave Caterpillar a rare double downgrade from "buy" to "sell," as analysts warned that an earnings decline in 2020 had not yet been priced into the stock.

The stock has since rebounded, however, and is up 12% so far in 2019. Over the past 12 months, it is down 7%.

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