Growth in mining, strong replacement demand for products in the United States and a continued focus on cost management helped Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) deliver record quarterly profit per share of $2.37 in the first quarter of 2012. This represents an increase of 29 percent from first-quarter 2011 profit per share of $1.84. First-quarter 2012 sales and revenues of $15.981 billion were up 23 percent from $12.949 billion in the first quarter of 2011. Profit was a record $1.586 billion in the quarter, an increase of 29 percent from $1.225 billion in the first quarter of 2011.
"These outstanding results demonstrate our continued focus on execution and controlling costs as we increase production and expand capacity to meet increasing demand from our customers," said Caterpillar Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Doug Oberhelman. In fact the company raised its profit outlook for 2012 without lifting its sales and revenues forecast. "We're seeing strong global demand for most mining products and significant growth in replacement demand for products in the United States, which more than offset slowing in China and Brazil.
"Our growth has also been good for jobs—increasing demand coupled with our acquisitions has led to a nearly 50-percent increase in our global workforce since the start of 2010, to a total of 155,710 people. Even without acquisitions, in the last year alone, our workforce in the United States has grown by more than 6,500 people while our workforce is up about 7,200 outside of the United States," Oberhelman said.
Caterpillar has increased the profit outlook for 2012 while maintaining the sales and revenues outlook in the range of $68 to $72 billion. While the overall outlook range for sales and revenues has not changed, better growth than initially expected in North America is now expected to about offset slowing sales and revenues in China and Brazil. The outlook for profit per share is now expected to be about $9.50 at the middle of the sales and revenues outlook range. The previous profit per share outlook was about $9.25 at the middle of the sales and revenues outlook range.
"We remain on track for another record-breaking year in 2012 at a time when U.S. construction activity remains depressed and economies in Europe, China and Brazil have slowed. While our outlook reflects a record year, we are highly focused on preparing for additional growth over the next few years. Although it's tough to predict the exact timing, we expect positive economic growth moving forward. China and Brazil took steps in 2011 to slow their economies and bring inflation under control. Both countries have realized inflation levels in their targeted range and have begun to move to more accommodative economic policies that should support improved growth later this year. Improvement in those economies, better growth in Europe in the coming years and our view that the United States will continue to improve is why we are so focused on improving factory efficiency and putting additional capacity in place. We have a record order backlog today, and we need to be ready for continued growth," Oberhelman said.
Caterpillar worldwide full-time employment was 127,238 at the end of the first quarter of 2012 compared with 105,394 at the end of the first quarter of 2011, an increase of 21,844 full-time employees. In addition, the flexible workforce increased by 5,643 for a total increase in the global workforce of 27,487.
The increase was a result of additions to support higher sales volume and acquisitions, primarily Bucyrus and MWM, which added 13,687 people to the global workforce.