Caterpillar Inc. Fourth Quarter Earnings Sneak Peek

S&P 500 (NYSE:SPY) component Caterpillar, Inc. (NYSE:CAT) will unveil its latest earnings on Thursday, January 26, 2012. Caterpillar offers construction and mining equipment as well as diesel and natural gas engines and industrial gas turbines.

Caterpillar, Inc. Earnings Preview Cheat Sheet.

Wall St. Earnings Expectations: The average estimate of analysts is for profit of $1.73 per share, a rise of 17.7% from the company’s actual earnings for the same quarter a year ago. During the past three months, the average estimate has moved up from $1.69. Between one and three months ago, the average estimate moved up. It has been unchanged at $1.73 during the last month. Analysts are projecting profit to rise by 62.3% versus last year to $6.80.

Past Earnings Performance: The company topped estimates last quarter after missing forecasts the quarter prior. In the third quarter, it reported net income of $1.93 per share against a mean estimate of profit of $1.59 per share. In the second quarter, it missed forecasts by 5 cents.

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Wall St. Revenue Expectations: On average, analysts predict $16.04 billion in revenue this quarter, a rise of 25.2% from the year ago quarter. Analysts are forecasting total revenue of $58.55 billion for the year, a rise of 37.5% from last year’s revenue of $42.59 billion.

Analyst Ratings: Analysts are bullish on this stock with 14 analysts rating it as a buy, none rating it as a sell and five rating it as a hold.

A Look Back: In the third quarter, profit rose 44.1% to $1.14 billion ($1.71 a share) from $792 million ($1.22 a share) the year earlier, exceeding analyst expectations. Revenue rose 41.2% to $15.72 billion from $11.13 billion.

Key Stats:

The company has enjoyed double-digit year-over-year percentage revenue growth for the past four quarters. Over that span, the company has averaged growth of 49.3%, with the biggest boost coming in the fourth quarter of the last fiscal year when revenue rose 62.2% from the year earlier quarter.

The company has seen net income rise in three straight quarters. Net income rose 43.6% in the second quarter and more than fivefold in the first quarter.

Competitors to Watch: Deere & Company (NYSE:DE), General Electric Company (NYSE:GE), Astec Industries, Inc. (NASDAQ:ASTE), Columbus McKinnon Corp. (NASDAQ:CMCO), Manitowoc Company, Inc. (NYSE:MTW), Cummins Inc. (NYSE:CMI), CNH Global N.V. (NYSE:CNH), Navistar Intl. Corp. (NYSE:NAV), Terex Corporation (NYSE:TEX), and Lindsay Corporation (NYSE:LNN).

Stock Price Performance: During November 21, 2011 to January 20, 2012, the stock price had risen $14.93 (16.5%) from $90.71 to $105.64. The stock price saw one of its best stretches over the last year between December 28, 2011 and January 10, 2012 when shares rose for nine-straight days, rising 11.9% (+$10.55) over that span. It saw one of its worst periods between September 15, 2011 and September 23, 2011 when shares fell for seven-straight days, falling 14.7% (-$12.61) over that span.

(Company fundamentals by Xignite Financials. Earnings estimates provided by Zacks)

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