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Quick Hits: Caterpillar Invades China

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Brief scrutiny of today's headlines.

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Let's hear it for exports.

Caterpillar (CAT) says surging demand for construction and mining equipment in China and other emerging nations will drive record sales this year.

The company expects sales to China to exceed $2 billion and global sales to top $50 billion, offsetting sluggish sales in the United States.

In the second quarter of 2008, Caterpillar reported all-time records for revenue and earnings per share. The company earned $1.74 a share, up from $1.24 earned in the same period a year ago. Revenue totaled $13.6 billion, up from $11.4 billion reported in the second quarter of 2007.

"While North America remains depressed and we've seen softening in Western Europe and Japan, Caterpillar continues to grow in emerging markets and in global industries like energy and mining," Jim Owens, Caterpillar chairman and CEO, said in a prepared statement.

In addition to China, sales have been strong in India, Russia, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. In Asia, orders for mining and power generating equipment extend to 2010.

Caterpillar is negotiating with the Chinese government to develop at 250-acre facility in Kumming to test equipment and train customers in its use.

Komatsu of Japan is second only to Caterpillar in the manufacture of heavy equipment. Caterpillar also competes with CNH Global (CNH), a Dutch company, and Volvo.

US exports have been helped by a weaker dollar and have been rising at the fastest rate in years. Exports have helped the US avoid slipping into recession. Voters therefore might want to be wary of politicians who say free trade costs jobs and vow to renegotiate trade agreements, including NAFTA.

American export growth is spread around the world, with some of the sharpest gains coming in Latin America. Exports to Brazil increased 43% in the second quarter ended in June while exports to Argentina jumped 65% and exports to Colombia were up 42%.

China is the largest customer for U.S. exports after Canada and Mexico.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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