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Caterpillar equipment is displayed for sale at a retail location in San Diego on March 3, 2017.

Mike Blake/Reuters

Caterpillar Inc reported quarterly earnings that exceeded analyst estimates on Thursday, as demand for its machines was propelled by the fastest global economic growth since the 1970s.

The Illinois-based manufacturer of heavy machinery, however, did not provide an earnings forecast for this year.

In an interview, Chief Financial Officer Andrew Bonfield said while the company’s expectations for the year were “very positive”, supply chain bottlenecks were making it tougher to keep up with increasing equipment demand.

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He pointed to a global shortage of semiconductor chips, which has forced forcing automakers to shut down production.

Bonfield said the shortages did not impede production in the first quarter, but the supply situation remained “dynamic and very fluid” and could have an impact later this year.

“We may not be able to satisfy all the end-user demand out there,” he told Reuters. “And that’s the challenge which we are trying to manage.”

Caterpillar is also adjusting prices in response to higher steel costs. Bonfield, however, said a run-up in commodity prices was a positive for the company as it was generating demand for its machines from iron-ore miners.

Adjusted profit for the first quarter came in at $2.87 per share, up from $1.65 per share a year earlier. Analysts surveyed by Refinitiv, on average, expected earnings of $1.94 per share.

Equipment sales rose 13 per cent year-on-year in the quarter to $11.2 billion, led by a 72 per cent surge in construction machine sales in Asia.

The company’s shares were up 1.2 per cent at $235.18 in premarket trading. The stock has surged 27 per cent since its last earnings report, outperforming the broader blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average on bets that the fastest pace of global economic recovery since 1976, rising commodity prices and a proposed infrastructure stimulus by the administration of President Joe Biden will lift the sales of its machines.

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Caterpillar was seeing a recovery in most of its markets around the world, Bonfield said.

“A lot of governments around the world are seeing, particularly in an era of relatively cheap money, infrastructure is a great way of stimulating their economies and building back for the future,” he said.

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