Economic Bellwether Caterpillar CEO Sees Stellar Year Ahead

Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) Chairman and CEO Douglas Oberhelman sees a monumental year ahead for his company.

“Europe is a little slow right now but I would see a lot of opportunity as it recovers. The eastern part of Europe and the Middle East really have a lot of potential,” Oberhelman said on Tuesday. “I am still pretty optimistic about 2012. It will be another record year.”

Oberhelm told CNBC in Beijing that the Peoria, Ill.-based company will rely on growth in its new markets such as Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa and China.

He also said they were looking at the China market for the long term. “It’s the largest construction equipment market in the world today. We want to be here in a bigger way and of course we are investing a lot of time for what would be a 20- or 30-year run.”

When Caterpillar reported 2011 earnings in January, it forecast a profit rise of 25 percent to $9.25 a share. The world’s largest heavy machinery maker will invest about $4 billion on capital expenditures in 2012, compared with $2.6 billion in 2011.

Here’s how shares of CAT are reacting to the news:

Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT): CAT shares recently traded at $110.92, down $2.81, or 2.47%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $67.54 to $116.95. Volume today was 4,278,219 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 6,759,430 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 15.02, while trailing earnings are $7.40 per share.

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