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Strong Caterpillar First Quarter Results Buoy Shares on Wall Street

Tim Shelley / Peoria Public Radio

Stronger than expected first-quarter 2021 results from Caterpillar drove shares up 3% in premarket trade on Wall Street early Thursday morning.The company reported first-quarter sales of $11.9 billion, a 12% increase when compared to 2020's $10.6 billion. Traders had expected first-quarter profits of around $10.9 billion, per a MarketWatch aggregate. Profit per share was $2.77, up from $1.98 in 2020's first quarter.

The earthmoving giant said the increased sales were driven by more end-user demand.

"I'm proud of our global team's strong performance as they continue to serve our customers," said Caterpillar Chairman and CEO Jim Umpleby in a statement. "We're encouraged by improving conditions in our end markets and are proactively managing supply chain risks. Our dedicated team continues to execute our strategy for long-term profitable growth."

Sales were up 27% in the first quarter, particularly in Latin America, Asia, and Europe. Sales in North America remained relatively flat in comparison.

Heading into the second quarter, the company expects construction industry sales to improve, particularly in North America. Demand in resource industries is also expected to rise. But the operating margin improvement of 15.3% in the first quarter of 2021 over the 13.2% in the equivalent period in 2020 is expected to moderate in the second quarter.

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