Huge demand at Caterpillar, but global supply constrains

Jan 28, 2022, 5:05 AM | Updated: 1:13 pm

Caterpillar’s sales surged in the final quarter of the year despite ongoing disruptions in the global supply chain that have hit almost every sector of the economy.

Executives said Friday that demand for construction equipment remains elevated, but supply issues and cooling construction in China depressed the company’s stock.

Sales climbed 23% to $13.8 billion topping Wall Street expectations for $13.36 billion, according to a survey of industry analysts by Zacks Investment Research forecast.

Construction industry sales rose 27%, driven by an improvement in dealer inventories, higher end-user demand and increased prices.

Sales in the resource industries segment also climbed 27% on higher end-user demand for equipment and aftermarket parts, and higher prices. End-user demand was higher in mining and heavy construction.

The U.S. economy grew last year at the fastest pace since Ronald Reagan’s presidency. The nation’s gross domestic product — its total output of goods and services — expanded 5.7% in 2021. It was the strongest calendar-year growth since a 7.2% surge in 1984 after a previous recession. That accelerated toward the end of the year, with growth hitting an unexpectedly brisk 6.9% annual pace from October through December, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.

That growth, fueled by the emergence of the U.S. from a pandemic induced recession, has tightened supply everywhere, including for Caterpillar.

“Dealer inventories are generally near the low end of the typical range due to strong customer demand and our supply chain challenges. Currently availability is extended for some products due to the shortage of semiconductors and other components,” said CEO Jim Umpleby in a conference call Friday. “With the exception of China, end user demand for our equipment remains strong.”

“Amid ongoing supply chain constraints, our team continues to execute our strategy for long-term profitable growth while striving to meet customer demand,”

But the pandemic has created other massive shifts, including a migration to larger homes that could accommodate people working, or going to school, from home.

Sales of new single family homes rose in December to their highest level in 10 months. The increase put the seasonally adjusted annual sales pace to 811,000 for the month, according to the Commerce Department on Wednesday, an 11.9% increase over November’s figure, which was revised down to 725,000 from 744,000.

In that environment, demand for Caterpillar’s yellow-and-black machinery has surged.

For the three months ended Dec. 31, Caterpillar Inc. earned $2.12 billion, or $3.91 per share. Stripping out certain items, earnings were $2.69 per share, far exceeding Wall Street’s per-share expectations of $2.23.

A year earlier the Deerfield, Illinois, company earned $780 million, or $1.42 per share.

Revenue for the entire year jumped 22%, to $51 billion. Caterpillar’s full year profit more than doubled to $6.49 billion, or $11.83 per share. Adjusted earnings were $10.81 per share.

Shares declined almost 6% Friday.

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Huge demand at Caterpillar, but global supply constrains