Belfast Telegraph

Machinery giant sees reasons for hope in recovery

By Symon Ross

Construction machinery giant Caterpillar said it sees “encouraging signs” of economic recovery, despite reporting sharply lower quarterly profits.

The US company, which owns FG Wilson in Northern Ireland, yesterday posted stronger than expected third-quarter results and raised its full-year forecast, citing signs that a recovery may be under way.

Illinois-headquartered Caterpillar reported profits of $404m (£245m) for the period, down 54% on the third quarter last year, while revenues were down 44% |to $7.3bn.

However, the bulldozer and |excavator maker also forecast sales and revenues would rise by 10% to 25% next year.

“While we are still navigating through a very difficult environment in 2009, we see signs of improving economic conditions throughout most of the world,” chief executive Jim Owens said.

The comments will be welcomed at Larne-based generator manufacturer FG Wilson, which has reduced its own workforce by more than 600 in the last |year due to a drop in demand for its products.

FG Wilson put the majority of its workers on a reduced working week, but recently announced that salaried staff would go back to work full-time this month, after a slight improvement in orders.

Caterpillar has shed around 34,000 temporary and permanent staff globally over the past year as demand for equipment dropped.

“We believe the third quarter marked the low point for Caterpillar sales and revenues in what has been the toughest recession since the 1930s,” said Mr Owens.

“However, the world economy is still facing significant challenges. There is uncertainty about the timing and strength of recovery.”

Belfast Telegraph