Caterpillar Forecasts Smaller Profit on Mining Slowdown

caterpillar earnings
Yves Logghe/AP

CHICAGO -- Caterpillar cut its full-year outlook for 2013 on Monday to reflect a drop in demand for heavy equipment from its mining customers.

The Peoria, Ill.-based company said it now expects to report a profit of $7 a share on sales of $57 billion to $61 billion in 2013. That was down from a previously estimated profit of between $7 and $9 a share on sales of $60 billion to $68 billion.

"Mining is the big culprit," said Eli Lustrgarten, a research analyst at Longbow Research. "The key question now is not 2013, but 2014 -- will it be up or down?"

The news came as the company, the world's largest maker of construction and mining equipment, reported a weaker-than-expected first-quarter profit.

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Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) said it earned a profit of $880 million, or $1.31 a share, down from $1.586 billion, or $2.37 a share, in the year-ago quarter.

Analysts had expected the company to report a profit of $1.40 a share.

Sales during the period fell 17 percent to $13.20 billion.

Caterpillar, which announced earlier this month that it was laying off 460 workers, or about 11 percent of its workforce at an Illinois plant that makes mining equipment, said it had 11,000 fewer people working for it at the end of the first quarter of 2013 than in the year-ago period.