Caterpillar’s revenues up despite dip in marine sales

PEORIA, Ill. – Global sales of marine engines were down 3 percent, but Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) still reported record first-quarter 2004 sales and revenues of $6.47 billion, the company reported in a press release yesterday.

The $6.47 billion in sales and revenues represented a 34-percent increase compared to $4.82 billion in the first quarter of 2003. Caterpillar also had a record first-quarter profit per share of $1.16, according to the company.

Profit of $412 million or $1.16 per share was up $283 million compared to $129 million or $0.37 per share in the first quarter of 2003.

Caterpillar cited the movement of some orders for large reciprocating engines from first quarter 2004 into the second quarter as the primary reason for the sales decline in its marine segment.

The company said is optimistic about the remainder of 2004.

2004 Forecast

Caterpillar said it expects sales and revenues to increase about 20 percent and profit per share to be up 65 to 70 percent compared to 2003.

Included in this outlook are worldwide machine price increases of 2 to 3 percent that have been communicated to dealers with an effective date of July 1, 2004, Caterpillar said.

The company expects to deliver a 6.5 to 7 percent return on sales and revenues in 2004 as compared to 4.8 percent in 2003, despite an increase in retirement benefits of about $250 million and pressure on core operating costs associated with supporting higher than anticipated volumes.

"We remain focused on managing our cost structure as the economy recovers, ensuring we deliver outstanding results over the business cycle," said Caterpillar Chairman and CEO Jim Owens. “Sales opportunities are increasing, and we are exceptionally well positioned to benefit with our broad product offerings and strong global dealer network. We anticipate that keeping pace with volume growth will require additional hiring through the remainder of the year."

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