CAT's First Quarterly Loss in 17 Years

Lower sales and high layoff charges

Caterpillar Inc. reported its first quarterly loss in 17 years on April 21. The first-quarter loss of $112 million was down $1.034 billion from a $922 million profit in the first quarter of 2008. The decrease was largely a result of lower sales and revenues and $558 million of redundancy costs, according to a company statement.

Sales and revenues were $9.225 billion, down 22% from $11.796 billion in the first quarter 2008.

Looking ahead CEO Jim Owens said he "expects to lower inventory by about $3 billion in 2009 and reduced it by $789 million in the first quarter. Inventory management is a key element of the Caterpillar Production System using 6 Sigma, and we are pleased with the traction we're gaining. In this environment liquidity is a major focus, and as a result we've decided to hold more cash than usual."

The company has updated its outlook for 2009 and is now expecting 2009 sales and revenues to be in a range of plus or minus 10% around a midpoint of $35 billion.

"A great deal of uncertainty exists in the global economy, making it extremely difficult to know how our customers will respond during the remainder of 2009," said Owens. "We will take action to keep Caterpillar lean, while at the same time making strategic product and operational investments to position Caterpillar for long-term success when the economy does recover."

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