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Associated Press
Caterpillar 4Q Net Income Up 58 Percent
Thursday January 27, 10:30 am ET
Caterpillar Reports 58 Percent Surge in Fourth-Quarter Net Income on Sharply Higher Sales

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) -- Caterpillar Inc., the heavy equipment manufacturer, reported a 58 percent surge in fourth quarter net income Thursday on sharply higher sales but still fell short of Wall Street's profit expectations. Its shares tumbled more than 3 percent.

The company said it earned $551 million, or $1.55 a share, for the October-December period, up from $349 million, or 97 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call had expected a profit of $1.63 a share.

Sales rose 33 percent to $8.57 billion from $6.47 billion a year ago and easily surpassed analysts' estimates of $7.6 billion in sales.

Its shares fell $3.18 to $87.94 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange -- down more than 10 percent from the 52-week high of $98.72 reached last month.

For the year, its profits climbed 85 percent to $2.04 billion, or $5.75 a share, from $1.01 billion, or $3.13 a share, a year ago. Revenue rose to $30.3 billion, topping the $30 billion mark for the first time and up from $22.76 billion a year ago.

The company is enjoying its strongest rebound in three decades, benefiting from a worldwide economic revival that has boosted demand for its heavy equipment and engines.

"We're clearly pleased to have reached this important $30 billion milestone, but we have not yet delivered bottom line performance in line with our own expectations," Jim Owens, chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Owens said the company expects earnings to grow 25 percent in 2005 on revenue growth of 12 to 15 percent.

Caterpillar designs and manufactures mining, construction and agricultural machines, as well as engines for earth moving and construction equipment. It also is the world's leading manufacturer of electrical generators.
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