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Tue, Apr 17, 2001 EDT
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Caterpillar Fourth-Quarter Profits Jump 10 Percent
By Jay Hughes   Associated Press
PEORIA, Ill. — Caterpillar Inc. reported a 10 percent boost in fourth-quarter profits Thursday, citing slightly increased sales and better performance from its financial services that also contributed to increased year-end earnings.

The heavy equipment manufacturer reported fourth-quarter earnings of $264 million, up $25 million from the same quarter last year. Earnings per share were 76 cents, up nine cents from fourth-quarter 1999 and easily beating Wall Street's expectations.

Analysts surveyed by First Call/Thomson Financial had expected Caterpillar's earnings to be 64 cents per share.

Fourth-quarter sales were $5.11 billion, a $95 million increase over fourth-quarter 1999. The company said sales volume increased 3 percent. Revenues in the Financial Products division, which includes investments, a financing arm and an insurance operation, increased 11 percent.

For fiscal year 2000, Caterpillar reported earnings of $1.05 billion, up $107 million from 1999. Profit per share was $3.02. Full-year revenues were $20.18 billion, up 2 percent from the previous year.

However, Chairman and CEO Glen Barton forecast another challenging year ahead. He said an expected decline in North American sales should be offset by higher sales in other markets, but profits are expected to be 5 to 10 percent lower than 2000.

"In general, many of the markets we serve will continue to be cyclically depressed with excess capacity and ongoing price pressure," he said.

Peoria-based Caterpillar designs and makes mining, construction and agricultural machinery as well as engines for earth-moving and construction machines. It is the world's No. 1 maker of earth-moving machinery.

Caterpillar operates manufacturing plants in 22 countries.

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