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Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Today’s close: down .26%

Visions of infrastructure spending keep dancing on the horizon for Caterpillar investors, who saw Friday’s close lop 7 percent off last Friday’s 33.28 finish. Full quote at Yahoo Finance.

The indexes finished a notch lower: Dow, down 1.04%; Nasdaq, down 0.48%; S&P 500, down 8.35. Wrap-up at Market Watch.

Cat’s volume of 10 million shares is about a third below average; maybe the bear’s found better-tasting berries to much on. While Cat outperformed the indexes, it also closed within a dime of its low for the day. Given the thrashing Terex took yesterday, I wouldn’t look to Deere for good cheer next week.

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Tom Mangan posted at 1:25 pm February 13th, 2009 |

Mr. Hope, meet Mr. Yellow

I was at my real job when Obama came to Peoria and Caterpillar CEO Jim Owens managed to muck up a pretty good photo op by doing that thing they taught us to do in Peoria when asked a direct question: say what you think the truth is.

Something you develop in the news biz is a BS detector — mine was pegged the other day when Obama was allegedly going to say Owens promised to recall recently laid-off workers if the stimulus bill passed. It was all based on an unnamed “source” quoted in the Journal Star and carefully hedged to really mean “we’ll start rehiring if the version we want gets passed (though we know this will never happen by the time the Beltway Sausage Factory gets done with it).”

Mr. “Audacity of Hope” is not above exploiting fearful people’s hopes for better days to get legislation passed. Refreshing because it exposes him as politician vs. messiah. Mr. Yellow Father, however, has to answer to the people who have their personal fortunes (and $18 billion worth of stock) invested in his enterprise; he gains nothing by handing out false hopes.

I don’t really think Owens and Obama contradicted each other: Obama’s package should help companies like Caterpillar stop firing and start hiring. Owens just said it would be farther down the road than many had hoped, and that more jobs may be lost before things turn around and hiring resumes. If this surprises you, congrats on returning from your vacation on the Mars Riviera.

(I had to work late last night to get a story in the paper about a plane crash that killed 50 people … puts all this in perspective).

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Tom Mangan posted at 9:18 am February 13th, 2009 |

Today’s close: down .35%

Caterpillar started bad, rallied a tad, sank again and then bounced hard into the close to finish just a whisper from the green Thursday as the markets digested the possibilities of Obama’s Billions. Full quote at Yahoo Finance.

Indexes did much the same: Dow, down 0.09%; Nasdaq, up 0.73%; S&P 500, up 0.17%. Wrap-up at Market Watch.

Cat’s volume of 13.6 million shares was a bit above normal, but the chart pattern is encouraging: a day when the stock tanks at the open and struggles all day, then surges into the close often means a rally’s in the works. Most notably: Support held at $30, as it has several times already in the past couple weeks.

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Tom Mangan posted at 1:24 pm February 12th, 2009 |

Amusing: Crooks’ attempt to steal Cat excavator gets them busted

Newsday reported this gem today about a bodacious ring of heavy iron thieves:

The theft of the Caterpillar in Yonkers last July, however, proved to be their undoing, as the suspect at the wheel of the $250,000 piece of equipment crashed into an overpass, sparking a multicar accident, authorities said.

The Caterpillar kept going, but when a suspect later sought replacement parts for the damage, he was captured on surveillance video, giving investigators one of the clues used to indict 14 suspects.

The group made its money selling stolen cars – including Porsches and BMWs – and construction equipment in several eastern states as well as in the Dominican Republic, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

“Some people smuggle jewelry out of the country,” Kelly said. “Other people smuggle Caterpillars and Hummers and large construction vehicles. The suspects made up for lack of finesse with sheer audacity.

I guess the consolation during your stretch at Sing Sing is the admiration of your peers.

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Tom Mangan posted at 10:52 am February 12th, 2009 |

Today’s close: up .21%

There wasn’t much spring in Caterpillar’s step today, considering the magnitude of yesterday’s sell-off, but things could’ve been far worse, considering that oil futures dipped into the $35-and-change range. Full quote at Yahoo Finance.

Major indexes arrived for work today, but didn’t get much done. Dow, up 0.64%; Nasdaq, up 0.38%; S&P 500, up 0.8%. Wrap-up at Market Watch.

Cat’s volume was about 18 percent below average at 10.4 million … could that signal relief from the punishing volatility of late? We can only hope. Word arriving late in the afternoon that a stimulus package agreement is at hand produced barely a whimper. Feels like we’re sitting at a pivot point; I have no hunches where thing are going, so it’s better to keep my yap shut at the moment and be suspected of idiocy than to say something that removes all doubt.

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Tom Mangan posted at 1:14 pm February 11th, 2009 |

Today’s close: down 5.5%

Caterpillar got trampled Tuesday as Wall Street showed blood-red displeasure with both the U.S. Treasury secretary’s paint-by-numbers scheme to save the banks and the U.S. Senate’s gazillion-dollar scheme to save the rest of the economy. Full quote at Yahoo Finance.

Indexes looked like the floor of a MASH operating room: Dow, down 4.62%; Nasdaq, down 4.20%; S&P 500, 4.91%. Wrap-up at Market Watch.

Caterpillar’s volume of 17 million shares was about 30 percent above normal, not good but not nearly as ugly as some of the days we’ve seen since the Q4 earnings report. Large moves to the downside are more typical at the beginning of a bear market than the middle, when the slope-of-hope grinds on for months. Today’s bloodbath could be a sign of worse days to come, or it could simply be a profit-skimming correction of the rally of the past couple weeks. Perhaps traders bought the rumors and sold the news, as they’ve always done.

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Tom Mangan posted at 1:18 pm February 10th, 2009 |

Market doesn’t like latest bank bailout rescue plan

Traders slammed the Dow this morning, apparently disappointed that a Messiah did not spring from the head of Timothy Geithner and declare that good times are just around the corner. Actually, the indexes bounced to the same place in their trading range last week where sell-offs have ensued every time since last September. Strength getting sold in the midst of a bear market? Who’da thunk?

Actually this AP story reveals what really happened: the Treasury secretary said nothing new — implying uncertainty over the strength of the financial industry endures — and one key economic indicator tanked, giving everybody a ripe excuse to cash last week’s profits.

A government report that wholesalers cut back on their inventories in December by the largest amount in 16 years also weighed on the market. The reduction means wholesalers ordered fewer new goods, leading to reduced production and potentially more job layoffs.

The Commerce Department said wholesale inventories plunged by 1.4 percent, nearly double analysts’ expectations of 0.8 percent. It also was the fourth straight monthly decline.

Unfortunately, headline risk doesn’t go away till the news starts getting better.

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Tom Mangan posted at 10:07 am February 10th, 2009 |

NASCAR: How much bang does Caterpillar get for its sponsorship buck?

Caterpillar is among the prominent NASCAR sponsors that have to be asking themselves how much they really need to spend keeping racing teams afloat, especially in light of this Forbes magazine article highlighting just how far NASCAR has fallen from fan favor in the past five years. The woes: Cars look the same. Drivers look the same. Races look the same. And NASCAR is tightly controlled by the family that owns it.

Says the three-time reigning Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson: “The best thing to be is NASCAR, the second best a driver and the last thing a team owner.”

Team owners assume the lion’s share of the risk by investing heavily in people and equipment but get a pittance from broadcast revenue and none of the ticket sales, which go mainly to the track owners. It can cost $10 million to recruit a winning driver and $25 million a year to race one car. Most teams raced two or three last year, and 90% of their operating budget came from corporate sponsors. The rich sponsorship deals signed during the fat years earlier this decade are expiring, and new sponsor money is drying up. Domino’s Pizza, a primary sponsor of Michael Waltrip Racing, and Eastman Kodak, a sponsor of Penske Racing, threw in the towel after last season. Also gone are Coors Light and Tide.

Sponsors still committed to the sport, such as Caterpillar, Diageo and UPS, are flocking to winning teams or spending their money at the track. Winning brings in money, and the money funds the ability to win. The haves are pulling away from the have-nots. The four richest racing teams filled all 12 positions in the sport’s Chase for the Cup playoff format last year. Most of the 43 drivers at this weekend’s Daytona 500 will start their engines knowing they have a slim chance of cracking the top 10. Some won’t even bother to complete the race.

Teams are folding, merging or taking bailouts from plutocrats. Seven-time NASCAR champion Richard Petty sold his Petty Enterprises team last year to the private equity firm Boston Ventures because he could not raise enough sponsor money. (Boston Ventures recently sold Petty’s name to the team owned by multimillionaire businessman George Gillett.) In 2007 Jack Roush sold half of his team to Fenway Sports Group, a firm controlled by the company that owns the Boston Red Sox. Morgan-McLure Motorsports shut its doors last year after 24 years on the circuit because of a lack of sponsors. Ditto Bill Davis Racing.

Team owners want a franchise system like pro baseball and football teams have. NASCAR says no dice. Sponsors have lots of sway in pro racing … can’t help speculating that Cat and its brethren might have something to say about whether the team owners get what they want.

Cat sponsors Richard Childress Racing with Jeff Burton in the No. 31 Chevrolet. Cat’s racing page is here.

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Tom Mangan posted at 6:15 am February 10th, 2009 |

Today’s close: Down 1.68%

Sellers came back to town Monday as Caterpillar drifted lower all day amid fretting over falling oil prices and a general wait-and-see outlook on Bank Rescue Plan No. 14,472, to be unveiled Tuesday. Full quote at Yahoo Finance.

Indexes were essentially flat: Dow, down 0.12%; Nasdaq, 0.01%; S&P 500, up 1.28 (0.15%). Wrapup at Market Watch.

Caterpillar’s volume of 9 million shares was considerably below average, revealing little conviction in today’s selling, which seemed mostly like profit-taking after last week’s late boost. The whole world’s waiting to see what Congressional Cavalry is cooking up. That could drive the action till Obama inks his signature on the stimulus package.

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Tom Mangan posted at 1:13 pm February 9th, 2009 |

Obama coming to Caterpillar on Thursday

A Wall Street Journal blog post says the prez is coming to Peoria on Thursday:

Obama will hold a live televised press conference tonight at the White House, and travel to Fort Myers, Fla., on Tuesday for another townhall meeting. Spokesman Robert Gibbs said today that Obama will add a stop on Thursday to Peoria, Ill., to visit Caterpillar Inc.

Turns out the Peoria Journal Star is on the story.

Great quote from Obama insider David Axelrod at Huffington Post:

One thing that we learned over two years,” Axelrod added, “is that there’s a whole different conversation in Washington than there is out here. If I had listened to the conversation in Washington during the campaign for president, I would have jumped off a building about a year and a half ago.”

I seem to recall that very same conversation saying Obama had no earthly chance to become president. So maybe he’s on to something.

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Tom Mangan posted at 10:59 am February 9th, 2009 |