Rock to Road

News
Caterpillar sales slump


December 18, 2009
By Andy Bateman

December 18, 2009 – Today’s Wall Street Journal quotes Caterpillar, the
world's largest manufacturer of construction machinery by sales, as saying that
world-wide machinery sales declined 45% in the three-month period ended in November,
compared with the same period a year earlier. Global sales were down 50% for
the three months ended in October and down 52% in September.

Caterpillar has been experiencing widespread weakness in demand this year
as its dealers work off large volumes of unsold equipment caused by a steep
reduction in construction activity and lower prices for mined commodities amid
the global recession.

The modest improvement in November sales activity from October and
September suggests the company's dealers may be starting to purchase more
equipment from the company to restock depleted inventories. The improving
comparisons with 2008 also likely reflect the severe unraveling in
Caterpillar's business lines that occurred late last year.

Three-month sales in North America were
down 54% through November from a year ago. October sales from the region were
off 58%. November sales in Europe, the Middle East and Africa
were down 53%, the same rate of decline reported for October.

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Caterpillar is widely expected to benefit from increased spending on public
infrastructure construction and the resumption of U.S. economic growth. But
construction companies, whose buying power has been diminished by stricter
credit requirements, have so far been reluctant to accelerate purchases of new
machinery.

Overall sales of Caterpillar engines dropped 36% in the November period.
Falling sales were reported in all of the company's engine market segments, led
by the truck and buses market, where sales were down 48%. Caterpillar intends
to exit from the truck engine business at the end of the year.