Caterpillar staying ahead of supply turbulence

Caterpillar CEO Jim Umpleby says the US machinery giant continues to see “healthy demand across most of our end markets” after it posted a bumper 21% year-on-year lift in third-quarter sales to US$14.99 billion, lifted by gains across construction, mining and energy/transport.

The company saw a 19% yoy increase in construction business to $6.28b, a 22% rise in energy and transport to $6.19b, and 81% jump in resources to $3.08b. Revenue for the first nine months of 2022 totalled $42.83b versus $37.17b at the same time last year ($51b for the full year). Caterpillar’s order backlog was $9.4b higher at the end of September this year than a year ago.

Operating profit was up 46% yoy to $2.4b for Q3.

“We have strong orders [and] our dealer inventory remains towards the low end of a typical range,” Umpleby said.

“Certainly we continue to closely monitor the global macro-economic environment.

“Part of our strategy we laid out in 2017 was a competitive and flexible cost structure. So … we’ve demonstrated the ability to take action when we need to take action.

“Think about 2020, the year when COVID hit and we had a pandemic-induced significant decline in our sales. We still met our margin targets that year. So, again, we know what to do.

“Having said that, as we sit here today, we continue to see healthy demand across most of our end markets.”

Caterpillar said its Q4 sales were typically the highest for the year due to seasonal factors.

It expects Q4 price realisation to “more than” offset manufacturing cost increases in the period.

Umpleby said the company continued to work with its suppliers to try to ensure continuity of parts supply so it could meet order schedules.

“Caterpillar … has a very diverse product line. And we have a very diverse group of suppliers around the world,” he said.

“So it’s a very mixed bag.

“We continue to see semi-conductor availability challenges are impacting things like engine control modules, which have an impact on many of our products. So that’s still a challenge.

“We follow what happens in the semi-conductor industry and we read about some of the [reported] improvements for the ones that we use.

“My sense is that so many suppliers that are struggling now are quite reluctant to make any kind of predictions because many people have made predictions about improvement since we’ve gone into this situation that have proved to be wrong.

“We’re working with them as closely as we can to help them get as much supply out as they can and … to try to mitigate the impact of those shortages in our factories.”


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