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Caterpillar Hit by Declining Sales for 36 Months in a Row

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Mining and equipment behemoth, Caterpillar Inc.CAT reported an 11% decline in its global retail sales for the three months ended Nov 2015. The company, which is considered to be the bellwether of economic activities, is going through a rough patch with sales declining for 36 consecutive months due to a crash in commodity prices, soft mining demand and a slowdown in China.

Previously, Caterpillar had last suffered sales decline for a 19-month stretch, spanning between Oct 2008 and Apr 2010 due to the global recession. So far in 2015, the company's sales have dropped an average 12%. After dropping 16% in October, to its lowest in 2015, the company witnessed a slight improvement with the 11% decline in November sales.

As per the company's November sales report, overall performance was hurt by a 37% slump in Latin America. Sales fell 17% in the Asia Pacific region and 5% each in the Europe, Africa and Middle East (EAME), and North America.

Overall sales at Resource Industries, which continues to bear the brunt of weak mining spending due to lower commodity prices, were down 28% to a nadir. Asia-Pacific sales witnessed the maximum decline of 39%, followed by a 34% drop in the EAME and a 33% reduction in Latin America. Sales in North America were down 13%.

Sales in Construction Industries were down 7% year over year, mainly hit by the slump in Latin America (38%), followed by a decline in Asia-Pacific (10%). Sales in North America were down 6%. EAME was the only region to record an increase (8%). This is the first time that Construction Industries has posted a single-digit decline - reasonably better than the double-digit declines it has witnessed so far in 2015.

Sales in the Energy & Transportation segment fell 29% mainly due to a 58% plunge in the Transportation sector. Sales in the Oil & Gas sector declined 37% followed by the 24% decrease in the Industrial segment. The Power Generation sector, however, recorded an increase of 1%.

In the third quarter, Caterpillar's revenues declined 19% year over year to $10.96 billion due to an unfavorable currency impact along with lower volumes. Adjusted earnings fell 56% to 75 cents per share. For 2015, the company maintained its revenue guidance of $48 billion but lowered its earnings per share guidance to $4.60.

With a 5% drop in revenues anticipated for 2016, the company is looking at its fourth consecutive year of decline, which is unprecedented in its nine-decade long history. The dismal guidance was due to weak economic growth in the U.S. and Europe. Moreover, U.S. construction activity is being impacted by low infrastructure investment, continued headwinds from the oil and gas sector, a slowdown in China, recession in Brazil, and lower commodity prices.

Moreover, recently, Caterpillar hinted at continued slowdown in the mining sector in China. The company believes that China's demand for hydraulic excavators will shrink to the 23,000 range in 2015 from peak sales of 112,000 in 2010.

Caterpillar currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked stocks in the industrial products sector are CUI Global, Inc. CUI , Albany International Corp. AIN and Codexis, Inc. CDXS . All of these stocks sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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CATERPILLAR INC (CAT): Free Stock Analysis Report

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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