Caterpillar sees uncertain 2013 after tough 4Q

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 28, 2013 at 4:56 pm •  Published: January 28, 2013
Advertisement
;

Not counting the write-down and a $300 million tax benefit, Caterpillar would have earned $1.46 per share. Analysts surveyed by FactSet had been expecting a profit of $1.69 per share.

Revenue fell 7 percent to $16.08 billion as sales fell everywhere except Latin America.

Revenue from construction equipment fell 25 percent. But sales of mining gear — now Caterpillar's single largest category by revenue — grew 14 percent on improvements in all regions except North America, where coal mining is in decline.

Caterpillar's $653 million purchase of Siwei in June gave it a new business — roofing supports for mines — in China, the world's largest coal producer.

But on Jan. 18, Caterpillar said it had found "deliberate, multi-year, coordinated accounting misconduct" in the accounting at Siwei, and said it will write down its investment in the company by $580 million. It also said it dismissed several senior managers at the company.

Oberhelman said on a conference call that new Caterpillar managers tried to reconcile Siwei's inventory with what was on the books. They found a significant discrepancy, he said, prompting a deeper investigation.

"What we discovered was deliberate, multiyear, coordinated accounting misconduct at Siwei," he said. "It was executed by several senior managers at Siwei for the purpose of inflating sales, understating costs, and over-reporting profit, and it included fabricated documentation designed to cover their tracks."

He said Caterpillar is "considering all options to recover our losses and hold those responsible accountable for their wrongdoing." He said the company wouldn't comment further on "pending or contemplated litigation."

Asked why the physical inventory at Siwei wasn't checked before the deal closed, Caterpillar Chief Financial Officer Brad Halverson said in an interview that such a check wouldn't normally be done as part of the process of evaluating a company. "We did our normal due diligence process," he said.

For all of 2012, the company's profits rose 15 percent to $5.68 billion, or $8.48 per share, up from $4.93 billion, or $7.40 per share, in 2011. Revenue rose 10 percent to $65.88 billion, from $60.14 billion.

Shares of the Peoria, Ill.-based company rose $1.87, or 2 percent, to close at $97.45 Monday.