Caterpillar Machine Sales Slower on Fiscal Uncertainty

Caterpillar Inc., the world’s largest maker of construction and mining equipment, said global machine sales rose at a slower pace in the three months through November as North American growth decelerated.

Machines sales reported by dealers globally rose 5 percent from a year ago in the three months through November, down from 8 percent growth reported for the three months through October, the Peoria, Illinois-based company said today in a filing. Sales in North America, Caterpillar’s biggest market, increased 3 percent, down from a 13 percent increase reported a month earlier, according to the filing.

“North America has decelerated somewhat into the end of the year due to economic uncertainty and political uncertainty,” Larry De Maria, a New York-based analyst for William Blair & Co., said today in an interview.

Once leaders in Washington resolve the debate over tax increases and spending cuts known as the fiscal cliff, “the increases should become more meaningful and the replacement cycle should resume,” said De Maria, who has a buy rating on Caterpillar.

U.S. sales have risen during the past year as builders and contractors replaced aging machines. Caterpillar Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Doug Oberhelman on Dec. 6 said he expects President Barack Obama and Congressional leaders to negotiate a deal. Assuming they avoid the fiscal cliff, the U.S. looks “pretty good in 2013,” he said.

Caterpillar fell 0.9 percent to $89.50 at the close in New York. The shares have declined 1.2 percent this year.

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