Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg
Steel Tariffs Scare Caterpillar Even If Trade War Not a ConcernBy
CFO says higher steel costs would hurt the machinery giant
Halverson downplays risk of U.S. policies triggering trade war
Caterpillar Inc. isn’t concerned that the Trump administration’s policies will ignite a trade war but it is worried they could push up the cost of steel used to build those iconic yellow bulldozers.
The world’s biggest construction and mining machinery maker reported surging earnings on Thursday and delivered a bright outlook for global growth. But investor enthusiasm for its prospects is being curbed in a week in which European Central Bank President Mario Draghi attacked the U.S. Treasury Secretary’s comments on the dollar and China criticized the U.S.’s decision to place tariffs on solar-panel imports.
In a telephone interview Thursday, Chief Financial Officer Brad Halverson said that while he’s not concerned about that, he did say Caterpillar has actively worked with the administration to modernize some trade agreements.
“We’ve tended to believe that the parties will work things out and the rhetoric will work things out and come back to a balance,” he said. “We’re not concerned about a trade war at this time.”
Halverson also said the ongoing discussions about potential tariffs or quotas that President Trump could implement on steel imports are a concern of the company.
“If we have a significant price increase, that would put us at a competitive disadvantage," he said.