Is It Time to Panic and Sound the Economic Alarm?

With another earnings season in the books, the outlook is still questionable. Companies across the board continue to find ways to improve the bottom line, while the economic-recovery story remains weak and dependent on monetary easing from central banks around the world. Let’s take a look at two giant economic bellwethers.caterpiller

Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) is one company that is useful when gauging the health of the global economy. It is a leader in building the world’s infrastructure and receives roughly 60 percent of its sales from outside North America.

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The Illinois-based company reported record revenue and earnings for 2012, but a disappointing fourth quarter. Earnings in the final three months of the year plunged 55 percent to $1.04 per share, compared to $2.32 a year earlier. On average, analysts were expecting earnings of $1.69 per share.

Looking ahead, Caterpillar was not shy about the high level of uncertainty and sluggish growth. The company forecasts a wide earnings range of $7 to $9 per share for 2013.