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Caterpillar's sales soar to reach £32m in past year

Sales at US equipment giant Caterpillar - which employs around 1,600 people in Northern Ireland - jumped 18% to reach $45.5bn (£32bn) during 2017.

The parent company of the former FG Wilson generator maker in Larne said it was also preparing its factories and suppliers for continued growth.

According to its quarter four earnings release, it hit sales of $12.9bn (£9bn) in the last three months of the year, up from $9.6bn (£6.7bn) in the same period in 2016.

And it said its financial position continued to strengthen in the fourth quarter, with machinery, energy and transportation operating cash flow of $5.5bn (£3.9bn) for the whole year.

Its full-time workforce also increased by about 3,000 to 98,400 during the year.

Chief executive Jim Umpleby said: "After four challenging years, many key markets improved in 2017, and our global team delivered strong results.

"We remained focused on operational excellence and made early investments in profitable growth initiatives as we began to implement our new strategy."

Mr Umpleby said the company was starting 2018 with "strong sales momentum resulting from strong order rates, lean dealer inventories and an increased backlog".

There were positive economic indicators "across most of the world and in most of the company's end markets".

Belfast Telegraph