CNBC: Caterpillar CEO—Big Misses Reflect “Rough Patch”

Oct. 22, 2015

By Matthew J. Belvedere

Caterpillar delivered quarterly earnings and revenue that fell short of expectations on Thursday. The company also lower its earnings outlook for this year and sharply increased its estimates on restructuring costs for 2015.

Chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman acknowledged shortly after the announcement that the company is going through a “rough patch.”

“Our day will come, but it’s not right now,” he told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

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Caterpillar shares were down about 1 percent in premarket trading following the announcement. (Get the latest quote here.)

The world’s biggest construction and mining equipment maker posted third-quarter adjusted earnings of 75 cents per share, down from $1.72 in the year-earlier period. Revenue fell to $10.96 billion from $13.55 billion a year ago.

Wall Street had expected Caterpillar to earn 78 cents per share on $11.25 billion in revenue, according to the consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.

Oberhelman said he’s doing everything he can to fortify the company during this painful period, including amassing $6 billion in cash on his balance sheet. “We’ve got a strong balance sheet that will allow us to weather this storm we’re in. And it’s a pretty good one now.”

The Peoria, Illinois-based company expects 2015 sales and revenues to be about $48 billion. That’s unchanged from an announcement in September of as many as 10,000 jobs in the next three years as part of a massive restructuring.

Caterpillar revised lower its profit outlook for the year to about $3.70 per share or $4.60 per share excluding restructuring costs. It also expects those restructuring costs to increase to about $800 million in 2015 from the previous estimate of about $250 million.

It said sales and revenues are expected to be about 5 percent lower next year than in 2015, which would be the fourth-straight down year — something that’s never happened in the company’s 90-year history.

The dimmer view reflects weaker economic growth in the U.S. and Europe as well as headwinds from battered oil prices. The forecast was also based on slowing growth in China and a recession in Brazil.

Caterpillar said it repurchased $1.5 billion of common stock in the third quarter, a three-month stretch when the stock fell nearly 23 percent.

Asked if he regrets buying back stock in recent years, Oberhelman said: “Hindsight, of course, we’d like to do a lot of things over. But the intrinsic value going forward of our stock is pretty good.”

“We’ll be better than ever when we come out of this” downturn, he added.

In late September, along with announcing the job cuts, Caterpillarslashed its 2015 revenue forecast, joining a list of big industrial companies grappling with the mining and energy downturn.

Oberhelman said Thursday: “Our mining and oil business[es] … are very soft right now. We announced a major restructuring a month ago to address this to get our in front of this for 2016.”

Shares of Caterpillar have plunged more than 25 percent over the past 12 months as of Wednesday close.

—CNBC’s Reem Nasr, Everett Rosenfeld, and Reuters contributed to this report.

For video of CEO Doug Oberhelman’s CNBC interview go to this link.