Caterpillar rally hindered by fresh drop in sales

Shares in world’s largest heavy machinery maker Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT), the best-performing industrial stock so far this year, suffered Monday morning after the firm logged a 18% drop in global retail sales of equipment for the three-month period ended in September.

While the Peoria, Illinois-based company has had more discussions about potential sales in recent months than in the last two or three years, it looks like those talks have once again failed to materialize. Currently, only the Asia-Pacific region is growing, the company said on Monday.

Total retail sales to resource companies dropped 37% in the quarter when compared to the same period last year.

Total retail sales to resource companies dropped 37% in the quarter when compared to the same period last year. Yet the results are slightly better than a 39% decrease registered from April to June.

Global sales by CAT’s energy and transportation division fell 25%, the same as in August, including respective declines of 44%, 26% and 15% in transportation, power generation, and oil and gas products. The situation is problematic as energy and transportation is Caterpillar’s largest segment, accounting for 36% of its total revenue.

In light of the numbers, the giant construction and mining equipment manufacturer is now is expected to forecast a fifth straight annual sales decline in 2017 Tuesday, when it reports quarterly earnings, according to Bloomberg.

Caterpillar’s performance is often seen as a gauge of the health of the global economy, as its machines are huge, expensive, and used in different kinds of projects to which companies and governments are only likely to commit if they're confident in the economic outlook and their financial standing.

CAT’s shares were slightly down (-0.45%) at 10:56 am to $85.95. Year to date they’ve gained almost 27%.