Earnings Checkup: Caterpillar, Deere, Eaton, Rockwell Automation, Cummins

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It's that time of the year again. Every Fool's favorite quarterly celebration -- earnings season -- is under way. This series will give you a recap on earnings performance for companies that have already reported earnings and will provide you with a preview for companies that have yet to report. Today we take a look at the manufacturing industry.

Why is this important? Because even though we don't believe that moving in and out of the market in the short term is the best strategy, we still like to arm ourselves with regular information. Each earnings report gives you the opportunity to learn much more about a company's recent performance. Whether you're checking in on a stock you already own or looking for the next company to add to your portfolio, we'll show you what to expect during the course of earnings season.

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Source: Standard & Poor's.

For the industrials sector as a whole, there's some good news and some reason for pause. First, the good news. Year-over-year, earnings are expected to increase 10% compared with 2010's third quarter. However, the expected earnings trend for the industry this quarter is slightly worrisome. The 2011 Q2 earnings rise is not expected to continue in the third quarter, as analysts believe overall earnings will decrease by 3.6%.

Part of this decrease is probably seasonality. Since 2009, Industrials companies have tended to show decreases in earnings in Q1 and Q3, while they tend to grow their earnings in Q2 and Q4. This helps explain some of the drop that we're expected to see after a strong second quarter.

Now that you have the big picture for industrials, let's zero in on manufacturing companies.

Companies Yet to ReportEstimated Report DateEstimated EarningsEarnings Estimate 90 Days AgoYear-Ago EarningsEarnings Reported Last Quarter
Emerson Electric (NYS: EMR) Nov. 1$0.96$1.00$0.81$0.90
Rockwell Automation (NYS: ROK) Nov. 8$1.21$1.23$0.91$1.22
Deere (NYS: DE) Nov. 23$1.43$1.41$1.07$1.69
NCI Building Systems (NYS: NCS) Dec. 7 to Dec. 10($0.34)($0.39)($1.01)($0.71)

Sources: Yahoo! Finance and Earnings.com.

Cooper Industries (NYS: CBE) kicked off earnings season for the industry, beating analyst expectations by a penny. The electrical-products company saw revenue rise 12% to $1.39 billion, up from $1.24 billion in the previous year.

USG (NYS: USG) , however, didn't fare nearly as well. The company missed estimates by a whopping $0.48, coming in at -$1.09 earnings per share. UBS CEO James S. Metcalf blamed the disappointing figures on low demand in key markets, which he described as at "recessionary levels."

Industrials giant Caterpillar (NYS: CAT) posted impressive results on Tuesday, reporting a 44% jump in revenue. Importantly, the company said it's finally regaining market share in China. That was music to investors' ears, because Caterpillar had previously been losing market share in the Middle Kingdom, which accounts for about half of the world's total demand for construction equipment.

Cummins (NYS: CMI) produced a mixed bag for investors. The company posted an impressive 60% increase in third-quarter profit, but it lowered its projected sales for the year to a range of $17.5 billion to $18 billion, down from the $18 billion July estimate. The company said that the lower yearly expectations result from slow growth and monetary tightening in China and India.

Eaton (NYS: EMR) saw third-quarter profit climb 36% to $365 million, or $1.07 a share, while PACCAR (NYS: PCAR) also posted a very strong third quarter, with net income more than doubling, up 135%. Revenue also surged up 67%, helped by increased truck deliveries and aftermarket sales.

As for companies that haven't reported yet, analysts anticipate that Emerson Electric will improve on last year's third quarter by 19%, while Deere is expected to show a 34% increase in earnings per share for the current quarter. Deere has been aggressively expanding in emerging markets, where demand for agricultural machinery remained strong in the third quarter. Falling demand for farm machinery in the United States because of an overly saturated market is something to keep an eye on for the company in 2012.

Overall, investors saw a solid third quarter from these manufacturing companies, but economic uncertainty and possible lower demand in China are worrying signs for the future. While investors will be interested to see if the companies yet to report can live up to their lofty third-quarter earnings expectations, they'll be just as focused on the future for these companies, considering the current global economic uncertainty.

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At the time this article was published Fool contributor Brendan Byrnes owns no shares of any of the companies mentioned in this article. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Emerson Electric, Cummins, and PACCAR. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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