Caterpillar Shares Tumble After Company Misses Across The Board, Revenues Plunge 19%, Guidance Cut

It never fails: a month ago, after showing CAT's abysmal global retail sales, just three days later the company announced a historic business restructuring in which in addition to slashing its guidance, and confirming the China slowdown is now a recession if only in the manufacturing sector so far, it also announced it would fire 10,000, sending its stock crashing.

Then, yesterday, ahead of today's earnings we again showed that when it comes to global demand for CAT products, there is simply no demand, and this particular dead cat refuses to bounce, with 34 consecutive months of declining revenues as well as 11 consecutive months of doubler digit sales declines.


We hoped this data would soften the blow from today's CAT Q3 earnings which were clearly going to be ugly, and surely worse than consensus estimates.

Moments ago we got said earnings and as expected, they were indeed far worse than expected, with CAT reporting adjusted EPS of $0.75 ($0.62 GAAP), below consensus estimate of $0.77, while revenue of $11.0 billion also missed expectations of $11.33.This takes place even as CAT repurchased $1.5 billion in stock in Q3, or about 75% of the total $2.0 billion in buybacks it conducted in all of 2015 (compared to $8 billion in the past three years).

And the punchline: the company cut its 2015 EPS outlook from $5.00 to $4.60, even as it still keeps its full year revenue guidance at $48 billion adding that 2016 sales/rev is about 5% lower than 2015. It now sees 2016 revenues down 5% from 2015.

Some more highlights:

  • Q3 Revenue: $10.962 billion, down 19% Y/Y
  • Q3 Operating profit: $713 million, down nearly 50%
  • Q3 GAAP EPS: $0.62, down 72%
  • Q3 cash from operations: $4.9 billion, down over 20% Y/Y
  • Cash: $6 billion, down from $7.3 billion at the start of the year

From the report:

"The environment remains extremely challenging for most of the key industries we serve, with sales and revenues down 19 percent from the third quarter last year.  Improving how we operate is our focus amidst the continued weakness in mining and oil and gas.  We're tackling costs, and our year-to-date decremental profit pull through has been better than our target.  We're also focusing on our global market position, and it continues to improve even in challenging end markets.  Our product quality is in great shape, and our safety record is among the best of any industrial company today," said Caterpillar Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Doug Oberhelman.   


"Our strong balance sheet is important in these difficult times.  Our ME&T debt-to-capital ratio is near the middle of our target range at 37.4 percent; we have about $6 billion of cash, and our captive finance company is healthy and strong.  We've repurchased close to $2 billion of stock in 2015 and more than $8 billion over the past three years.  In addition, the dividend, which is a priority for our use of cash, has increased 83 percent since 2009," added Oberhelman.

It is unclear just why companies are boasting about their buyback activity, although it does bring the recent announcement of 10,000 layoffs in perspective: "The additional restructuring actions announced recently are substantial, but necessary to manage through this downturn and keep the company strong for the long term.  The actions are expected to lower operating costs by about $1.5 billion annually once fully implemented, with about $750 million of that expected in 2016."

And then the outlook, first for 2015:

The 2015 outlook for sales and revenues is about $48 billion, and that is unchanged from the outlook that was included with the September 24 announcement of new restructuring actions.


The outlook for profit per share is about $3.70, or $4.60 excluding restructuring costs.   The expectation for 2015 restructuring costs has increased significantly, from about $250 million to about $800 million, and is a result of the additional restructuring actions. The previous outlook for profit per share was provided in late July along with second-quarter 2015 financial results.  At that time, the outlook for profit per share was $4.70, or $5.00 excluding restructuring costs and was based on sales and revenues of about $49 billion.

And then 2016:

We expect world economic growth to be up slightly next year, from 2.4 percent in 2015 to 2.8 percent in 2016.  We expect the improvement to be led by the United States and Europe, partially offset by slower growth in China and Russia and continued recession in Brazil.  As a result, we expect prices for key commodities in 2016 to be close to current levels.  While we expect a small improvement in world economic growth, we do not expect it will be enough to improve the key industries we serve.  We do not expect construction or commodity-related industries like oil and gas and mining to improve.

2016 sales and revenues are expected to be about 5 percent below 2015.


* * *


We expect Construction Industries' sales to be flat to down 5 percent with some improvement in developed countries offset by declining sales in developing countries.  Energy & Transportation's sales are expected to be down 5 to 10 percent as a result of continuing weakness in oil and gas coupled with a weaker order backlog than in 2015.  Mining is expected to be down again, resulting in a decline in Resource Industries' sales of about 10 percent.

The preliminary outlook reflects weak economic growth in the United States and Europe with U.S. construction activity impacted by low infrastructure investment and continued headwinds from oil and gas.  It also reflects a slowing China, Brazil in recession and continuing weakness in commodity prices.

"Managing through cyclicality has been critical to Caterpillar's success for the past 90 years; it's nothing new for us or our customers.  When world growth improves, the key industries we serve – construction, mining, energy and rail – will be needed to support that growth.  We're confident in the long-term success of the industries we're in, and together with our customers, we'll weather today's challenging market conditions," Oberhelman said.

"We can't control the business cycle, but we continue to drive improvements in our business.  We're implementing Lean to drive improvements through our businesses and executing our Across the Table initiative with dealers to improve our market position, service performance and value to customers.  We're also investing in emerging technologies and data analytics tools to continue our role as an innovation leader for our customers.  As we look ahead to what will likely be our fourth consecutive down year for sales, which has never happened in our 90-year history, we are restructuring to lower our cost structure.  It's painful and will affect thousands of people, but is essential for the long-term health of the company and should position us for better results when conditions improve," added Oberhelman.

Couldn't have said it better ourselves. As for the stock, which recently soared on short covering and the latest round of corporate buybacks, it is down over 3% as of this moment and going lower.