Caterpillar Inc. scaled back its predictions of growth through 2015, citing the slow economic recovery and a dip in worldwide commodity prices.
Caterpillar executives spoke on September 24 at the MINExpo convention in Las Vegas, a gathering of international mining suppliers held every four years. The company’s earlier forecast predicted share prices of $15 to $20 in 2015. Those numbers were revised to $12 to $18 per share.
"We've seen a slowing in economic growth more than we expected," Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman told analysts and reporters at the event. "We expect fairly anemic and modest growth through 2015."
The forecast adjustment comes a year after Caterpillar paid $7.6 billion for mining equipment maker Bucyrus International, making the firm the world's largest producer of mining machinery, in addition to its construction equipment and engine-making undertakings. The acquisition was the largest in Caterpillar's 87-year history, and raised eyebrows at the time. Since the purchase, prices for iron ore and coal have fallen more than 20 percent.
“It's prudent, especially with what's happened in 2011 and 2012 in the economy, to readjust,” Oberhelman said. “I, for one, am still thinking $15 to $20 [per share by 2015], but we need better economic growth.”
Caterpillar's share price has fallen 15 percent in the past six months, and gave back another 2.2 percent in after-hours trading the day the forecast was released. Analysts remained positive after the announcement, acknowledging that the overall economic slowdown made the downgraded outlook unsurprising.