WBEZ | Caterpillar http://www.wbez.org/tags/caterpillar Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en As commodity prices slide, layoffs and restructuring follow http://www.wbez.org/news/commodity-prices-slide-layoffs-and-restructuring-follow-113159 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP_880892989250.jpg" style="height: 400px; width: 600px;" title="Tractors and equipment made by Peoria, Ill.-based Caterpillar Inc. are seen in Clinton, Ill. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)" /></div><p>In recent days, we&#39;ve seen these headlines:</p><ul><li>Caterpillar is planning to cut up to 10,000 jobs.</li><li>After standing for 127 years as an industrial giant, Alcoa will be splitting into two smaller companies.</li><li>Glencore, a global mining giant, is seeing its stock price crumble amid insolvency rumors.</li></ul><p>The three events may seem unrelated, but in fact, all are part of one big story: the commodities-price collapse.</p><p>All over the world, producers of raw materials sold in bulk, such as oil, copper, aluminum and zinc, have been tumbling in value. For most of us, these price changes may have seemed unimportant, or maybe even good. Cheap commodities have helped hold down consumer price inflation this past year.</p><p>But now, the reverberations from the commodities plunge are being felt by more and more Americans. This is no longer a story about miner layoffs in remote parts of South Africa or Australia. Now it&#39;s about middle-class jobs disappearing from Peoria as sales of mining equipment dry up.</p><p>Last week,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/24/us-caterpillar-layoffs-idUSKCN0RO1I820150924">Caterpillar said</a>&nbsp;it plans to lay off up to 10,000 workers, with a &quot;significant&quot; number of those cuts coming in Illinois. The company says that with equipment orders evaporating, 2016 will &quot;mark the first time in Caterpillar&#39;s 90-year history that sales and revenues have decreased four years in a row.&quot;</p><p>And at Alcoa &mdash; short for the Aluminum Company of America &mdash; a divorce is coming. The company,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.alcoa.com/global/en/about_alcoa/history/home.asp">founded in 1888</a>&nbsp;in Pittsburgh, announced it will split into two separate businesses next year.</p><p>The old part of Alcoa will chug along with its traditional bauxite-mining, alumina-refining and aluminum-production businesses. The other part will escape the commodity end of the industry to become a &quot;value added&quot; maker of engineered products.</p><p>And then there&#39;s Glencore. The&nbsp;<a href="http://www.glencore.com/">Swiss company</a>&nbsp;has a huge trading division that buys and sells commodities, and another arm that mines those materials, such as copper, zinc and coal. And the company, which has about $30 billion in debt, has lost roughly three-quarters of its stock value this year.</p><p>Perhaps more than any other company, Glencore provides a disturbing look at what happens when soaring expectations combine with low-interest loans to create high risks.</p><p>Five years ago, Glencore could see China buying up commodities at a torrid pace. China needed raw materials for construction of office buildings, roads, manufacturing plants and more. So it wanted to buy lots of zinc.</p><p>Zinc is a silvery-white metal used to coat iron and steel to block rust. It&#39;s also used to make brass, rubber and semiconductors. In fact, it&#39;s the world&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://geology.com/usgs/uses-of-zinc">fourth-most-consumed metal</a>&nbsp;&mdash; after iron, aluminum and copper.</p><p>So Glencore&nbsp;<a href="http://www.mining.com/glencore-xstrata-mcarthur-river-mine-expansion-plan-approved-39488">mined zinc</a>&nbsp;feverishly and bet heavily on its rising value. And it borrowed a lot for expansions.</p><p>At the time, that all made perfect sense. Zinc prices were up, and interest rates were down at rock bottom. Expanding the business seemed like a brilliant idea.</p><p>But now that China&#39;s growth is&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/08/27/435113583/china-s-economic-slowdown-further-hurts-depressed-commodity-prices">dramatically cooling</a>, so is demand for zinc. Prices have fallen about&nbsp;<a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/18/zinc-glencore-inventories-idUSL5N11O1AV20150918">30 percent</a>&nbsp;just since May. Investors wonder how Glencore is going to repay all of its debt now that revenues are falling.</p><p>This Glencore saga explains why the Federal Reserve&#39;s decisions on interest rates are so important. The central bank had slashed interest rates during the Great Recession to encourage companies to borrow for expansions. And it worked.</p><p>But for commodity companies, it worked too well; many borrowed heavily to splurge on dramatic expansions. Now they are faced with the consequences of this exuberance.</p><p>So critics can say that the Fed helped create this mess by keeping rates too low for too long.</p><p>But at this point, raising rates could make it even tougher for producers of commodities &mdash; whether miners, drillers or farmers &mdash; to refinance their debts, making it all the more difficult for them to hang on.</p><p>This is why investors and analysts, zinc miners and wheat farmers, hang on every word from the Fed.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/09/30/444531514/as-commodity-prices-slide-layoffs-and-restructurings-follow?ft=nprml&amp;f=444531514" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 12:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/commodity-prices-slide-layoffs-and-restructuring-follow-113159 Caterpillar 1Q profit shrank; cuts 2013 outlook http://www.wbez.org/news/caterpillar-1q-profit-shrank-cuts-2013-outlook-106779 <p><p>MINNEAPOLIS &mdash; A slowdown in the mining business is digging a hole in Caterpillar&#39;s profits.</p><p>First-quarter profit shrank 45 percent and Caterpillar has lowered its expectations for full-year sales and profit because its mining business is slowing. Sales of Caterpillar-branded mining machines such as large trucks and bulldozers will drop by half this year, the company said on Monday.</p><p>Caterpillar, based in Peoria, Ill., said mining customers placed big orders for equipment last year, but then mining profits fell, so now those customers are cutting back. Dealers who would normally be stocking up on Caterpillar gear to get ready for a busy summer instead cut inventory during the first quarter.</p><p>Executives said they had hoped that a slowdown in orders from dealers in late 2012 would turn around this year. &quot;Unfortunately, that hasn&#39;t happened,&quot; said Mike DeWalt, the company&#39;s controller, on a conference call. &quot;Overall mining orders have remained depressed.&quot;</p><p>Profit margins are higher for mining gear than for many of Caterpillar&#39;s other products, making the slowdown more painful to the company&#39;s bottom line.</p><p>&quot;We&#39;re definitely in a down-cycle right now, but long-term it&#39;s a great business for us,&quot; said Chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman.</p><p>Caterpillar has already started cutting costs. On April 5 it said that it would lay off more than 460 employees at a mining truck plant in Decatur, Ill. Caterpillar also announced mining-related layoffs in Milwaukee and plans to cut 1,300 of 3,400 jobs at a plant near Brussels that makes excavators, loading vehicles and engine parts. This year&#39;s capital spending &mdash; which covers big-ticket items like factories and computer systems &mdash; will fall below $3 billion, from $3.4 billion last year.</p><p>Caterpillar employed 141,000 people at the end of the quarter, down 7 percent from a year earlier. The job cuts included about 1,000 U.S. workers and almost 7,000 in other countries. Besides the permanent layoffs, it has also been putting production and office workers on temporary furloughs.</p><p>Caterpillar&#39;s net income dropped to $882 million, or $1.31 per share, for the latest quarter. Revenue fell 17 percent to $13.21 billion from $15.98 billion a year ago. Both missed analyst expectations. Analysts surveyed by FactSet were expecting a profit of $1.36 per share on revenue of $13.79 billion.</p><p>Profits fell in each of its big divisions. Operating profit fell 59 percent to $477 million in resource industries, which includes mining. It was down 61 percent to $239 million for construction equipment, and down 26 percent to $598 million in power systems, which makes items including large electrical generators and locomotive engines.</p><p>It also cut its 2013 guidance. Caterpillar now expects to earn $7 per share, down from $7 to $9 previously. It forecast revenue of $57 billion to $61 billion, down from $60 billion to $68 billion. Analysts had been expecting 2013 profit of $7.67 per share on revenue of $62.48 billion.</p><p>The reduced outlook wasn&#39;t entirely unexpected and Oberhelman did note some bright spots. Sales in China rose compared to a year ago. And the company is &quot;becoming more optimistic&quot; on the U.S. housing sector.</p><p>Caterpillar also announced that it plans to buy back shares &mdash; about $1 billion worth &mdash; for the first time since 2008, following an 11 percent drop in the price this year. That helped Caterpillar shares rise on Monday. They gained $2.63, or over 3 percent, to $83.06.</p></p> Mon, 22 Apr 2013 15:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/caterpillar-1q-profit-shrank-cuts-2013-outlook-106779 Jobs, Education and the Economy: The Elmhurst College Governmental Forum http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/jobs-education-and-economy-elmhurst-college-governmental-forum-105593 <p><p>On January 30, days after President Barack Obama begins his second term, four of the region&rsquo;s foremost corporate leaders discussed the economic landscape and how our workforce can succeed in it, during the Sixth Annual Elmhurst College Governmental Forum.<br /><br />The topic of this year&rsquo;s Forum was &quot;Jobs, Education and the Economy.&quot; Moderating the event was&nbsp;<strong>John Engler</strong>, a former three-term governor of Michigan and, as president of the Business Roundtable, leader of the foremost CEO association in the country. The key presenters at the Forum were Caterpillar Inc. chairman and CEO <strong>Douglas R. Oberhelman</strong>, Johnson Publishing CEO <strong>Desiree Rogers</strong>; and TMX Group CEO <strong>Thomas A. Kloet</strong>, who also serves on the Elmhurst College Board of Trustees.</p><p><strong>Part One</strong></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F79834927" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><strong>Part Two</strong></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F79836320" width="100%"></iframe></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/EC-webstory_12.jpg" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">Recorded Thursday, January 30, 2013 at Elmhurst College.</div><p><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 30 Jan 2013 15:42:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/jobs-education-and-economy-elmhurst-college-governmental-forum-105593 Caterpillar selling logistics unit stake for $750 million http://www.wbez.org/news/caterpillar-selling-logistics-unit-stake-750-million-99002 <p><p>Caterpillar is selling a majority stake in a logistics division for about $750 million to better focus on its core businesses.</p><p>The world's largest maker of construction and mining equipment said Thursday that it is selling a 65 percent interest in Caterpillar Logistics Services LLC to Platinum Equity.</p><p>Caterpillar, based in Peoria, Ill., will keep a 35 percent interest in the business.</p><p>Caterpillar Logistics Services continue to provide logistics services for non-Caterpillar branded parts including FG Wilson, Perkins, Solar, as well as for Caterpillar Japan.</p><p>The sale won't impact its manufacturing logistics and transportation operations and Cat brand parts distribution.</p><p>The deal is expected to close in the third quarter.</p><p>Shares of Caterpillar Inc. added 86 cents to sell for $96.85 in Thursday morning trading.</p></p> Thu, 10 May 2012 09:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/caterpillar-selling-logistics-unit-stake-750-million-99002 Caterpillar invests $20M in SC manufacturing plant http://www.wbez.org/story/caterpillar-invests-20m-sc-manufacturing-plant-97280 <p><p>Equipment maker Caterpillar Inc. plans to spend $20 million to expand one of its South Carolina manufacturing plants to handle growing demand.</p><p>Caterpillar said Wednesday that the expansion in Sumter, S.C., will add more than 80 jobs at the plant over the next two years. The project will nearly triple the size of the Sumter plant. It will make large hydraulic cylinders that Caterpillar currently makes at its Joliet, Ill., plant.</p><p>Caterpillar is shifting that work away from Joliet to allow that plant to expand production of other products to help meet growing demand for the company's construction and mining equipment. Caterpillar, based in Peoria, Ill., says it expects to begin hiring more workers in Sumter near the end of the year.</p></p> Wed, 14 Mar 2012 16:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/caterpillar-invests-20m-sc-manufacturing-plant-97280 Business groups complain about Illinois taxes http://www.wbez.org/story/business-groups-complain-about-illinois-taxes-89358 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-19/AP090129061371.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Business groups are complaining to lawmakers about taxes in Illinois.</p><div><p>The first in a series of hearings on the state's tax structure was held Tuesday in Chicago.</p><p>Senate President John Cullerton and House Speaker Michael Madigan called for the hearings after major companies, including Caterpillar and the CME Group, said they might consider leaving the state over taxes and the business climate.</p><p>Business groups say they're optimistic something will come out of the hearings, which will be held around the state.</p><p>One outcome they're looking for is a reduction in the state's corporate tax rate, which was recently raised to 7 percent.</p><p>Business groups also say they want other tax credits and incentives expanded.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></div></p> Tue, 19 Jul 2011 18:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/business-groups-complain-about-illinois-taxes-89358 Caterpillar to acquire Chinese company for $8.8 billion http://www.wbez.org/story/caterpillar-acquire-chinese-company-88-billion-88886 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-08/Caterpillar_AP_Doug C. Bizac.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Manufacturing giant Caterpillar has received approval to acquire a Chinese mining equipment maker in an $8.8 billion deal.</p><p>The Peoria-based company said Friday that it had cleared the final major regulatory hurdle necessary to close the deal: approval from the Chinese government. The Ministry of Commerce of the People's Republic of China gave its formal approval of the buyout, which is expected to close shortly. Caterpillar secured permission for the deal from the U.S. Department of Justice in May.</p><p>Caterpillar will acquire mining equipment company Bucyrus International, which makes surface mining equipment used to unearth coal, copper, iron ore, oil sands and other minerals. Bucyrus is headquartered in South Milwaukee, Wisconsin.</p><p>Caterpillar is the world's largest construction and mining equipment maker. Its stock fell $2.43, or 2.2 percent, to $109.20 in morning trading, while shares of Bucyrus gained 12 cents to $91.97.</p></p> Fri, 08 Jul 2011 16:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/caterpillar-acquire-chinese-company-88-billion-88886 So Bud bought Goose Island. Look on the bright side, we might see some hilarious Goose Island commercials! http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/2011-03-29/so-bud-bought-goose-island-look-bright-side-we-might-see-some-hilari <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2011-March/2011-03-29/SpudsMcKenzie1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img height="410" width="313" title="" alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-March/2011-03-29/SpudsMcKenzie1.jpg" /></p><p><strong>Top story</strong>: All hell is breaking loose because <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/anheuser-busch/anheuser-busch-buys-goose-island-beer-company-84359">Spuds McKenzie bought Goose Island</a>? Relax everyone. It's going to be fine.&nbsp; I, for one, can't wait for the hilarious Goose Island commercials with young drinkers doing whatever it takes to get a 312 or a Honkers Ale. Honkers Ale? I'm sure the fine people at Leo Burnett are already working up a line of ads that give us &quot;Honker Man,&quot; who despite his big nose and geeky persona, scores with the ladies because of beer. Gold! Man, I&nbsp;should work in advertising...</p><p><strong>B story</strong>: So <a href="http://chicago.eater.com/archives/2011/03/28/red-light-shutters-jerry-kleiner-spending-more-time-in-la-is-this-the-end-of-kdk.php">Jerry Kleiner is just folding up shop and moving on</a>? How will we live without his colorfully striped rayon shirts?&nbsp;</p><p>The restaurant magnet that helmed KDK&nbsp;group for years and brought high-concept dining to the forefront in&nbsp;Chicago has run into tax problems. Giocco in the South Loop closed last week because they weren't paying select taxes. And then&nbsp;Red Light in the West Loop was closed for operating without a liquor license, which was not renewed. Throw in the closing of Marche in the fall and KDK&nbsp;is in a free fall. Kleiner is interesting because he made fine dining hot without star chefs. Today, he has to compete with the Izards and the Achatz of the world. It's a sad ending to a very instrumental time in Chicago's culinary scene. It seems to be kind of a chaotic mess, but I guess that's how restaurants do it: Burn bright and flame out. They rarely tell you they are closing, or do a liquidation sale for two months like Borders.</p><p>But here's the thing, Jerry: Haven't you learned <em>anything</em> about running a business in&nbsp;Illinois? When you don't want to pay taxes, don't close up shop. Just threaten to leave the state. In other words, pull a &quot;<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/28/illinois-ceo-warns-he-may_n_841360.html">Caterpillar</a>.&quot;</p><p><strong>C story:</strong><a href="http://www.bettergov.org/red-light_cameras_ticket_cta_bus_drivers_but_taxpayers_charged/"> The Better Government Association and Fox Chicago did an investigation into CTA buses and red light camera tickets</a>. It turns out that a tremendous amount of those tickets are slapped on cars and buses with M&nbsp;plates, not to mention CTA&nbsp;buses. But do the CTA&nbsp;bus drivers pay? Nope, CTA&nbsp;does - $227,000 since 2006. That means it gets passed on to taxpayers and riders in the forms of more federal/state funding and fare hikes. So the next time you want that bus to get through that yellow light so you can get home faster, remember it will probably cost you about $4&nbsp; - maybe even more if the bus isn't packed.</p><p><strong>Weather</strong>: Still unseasonably cold. Although my iPhone tells me we might hit the 50s by Sunday.</p><p><strong>Sports</strong>: Okay fine, you got us, Blackhawks. We'll start paying attention now. The Blackhawks were on the verge of playing golf this April. They lost some key games down the stretch and were watching from the bottom of the playoff brackets. Last night, they gave Chicago a taste why they won the Stanley Cup <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/hockey/blackhawks/ct-spt-0329-blackhawks-red-wings-chic20110328,0,122662.story">with a 3-2 OT&nbsp;win over the Red Wings in Detroit</a>. Will this be the game that wakes up the Hawks? Come on Hawks, we need a playoff run! We want mass hysteria in the West Loop for both the Hawks <em>and</em> the Bulls. For a while there, it looked like we might get it - but the Hawks need to hold up their end of the bargain. So let's put our rally caps on and hope the Hawks pull a UCONN&nbsp;and win 9 or so in a row. Think of the local economy, fellas.&nbsp; A good strong surge? And those t-shirt/hat shops on Michigan Avenue (just south of Wacker) can stay in business.</p><p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Kicker</strong>: Mission Amy KR never ceases to amaze me. Another great mission last week, where Amy Krouse Rosenthal asked her readers to send in pictures to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/mission-amy-kr/2011-03-28/mission-66-send-save-suggest-84383">show solidarity and support for the Japanese people</a>. You did. And she put together this great slideshow:</p><p><iframe height="311" frameborder="0" width="500" allowfullscreen="" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/p_r4HSuTUwE" title="YouTube video player"></iframe></p></p> Tue, 29 Mar 2011 13:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/2011-03-29/so-bud-bought-goose-island-look-bright-side-we-might-see-some-hilari