Caterpillar Will Consider Retaining Jobs in U.S. Under Trump

Updated on
  • CEO tells CNBC it’s ‘reasonable’ to think economy can grow 3%
  • First pro-business government since 1928 is ‘worth something’

Under a Donald Trump government, Caterpillar Inc. will consider keeping jobs in the U.S. that may have otherwise been shifted abroad, Chief Executive Officer Doug Oberhelman said.

Tax changes and other policies proposed by President-elect Trump would help generate more jobs and it’s “reasonable” to think the economy can grow 3 percent, Oberhelman said in an interview with CNBC Wednesday. As the world’s biggest maker of machinery for the construction and mining industries, Caterpillar is a bellwether for U.S. manufacturing.

Since overseeing an expansion that led to record sales in 2012, Oberhelman has been navigating a slowdown in demand for engines, giant trucks and shovels. He reorganized mining and energy segments, shutting down dozens of factories, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. In September 2015, the company said it would cut as many as 10,000 jobs over four years. Headcount fell to 97,100 at the end of last quarter from 125,341 at end-2012, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The Peoria, Illinois-based company’s shares are up 40 percent this year, with the rally extending after the election victory of Trump, who has pledged $550 billion in transportation spending.

“This is the first time we’ve had a pro-business government, all three branches -- and I still can’t believe this, I haven’t looked it up, people tell me all the time -- since 1928,” said Oberhelman, who will step down from the position next month. “That is worth something.”

Last week, Caterpillar said analysts were overestimating its earnings prospects amid weakness in the North American construction market and volatile energy prices that aren’t high enough to drive substantial investment. In October, it lowered a revenue forecast for this year and said next year won’t be much different as companies defer purchases amid sluggish growth.

— With assistance by Ronald Day

(Updates with job numbers in third paragraph.)
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