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Caterpillar profit leaps, hikes full-year outlook

Caterpillar Inc. recorded a fivefold surge in quarterly profit and raised its forecast for the rest of the year, citing rising demand for its bulldozers, excavators and other heavy equipment.

The world's biggest maker of earth-moving equipment said Friday it now looks for full-year earnings of $6.25 (U.S.) to $6.75 per share, up from its prior forecast of "near $6." Analysts' most recent forecast was $6.26.

The company reported first-quarter profit of $1.23-billion, or $1.84 per share, compared with $233-million, or 36 cents per share, a year earlier.

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Profit came in well ahead of analysts' average forecast of $1.31 per share , according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose 57.2 per cent to $12.95-billion.

The company joins a string of strong earnings reports from industrials ranging from 3M Co to Komatsu Ltd .

Caterpillar shares rose 2 per cent to $115 in pre-market trading, above their lifetime high on the New York Stock Exchange.

Earlier this week Komatsu reported operating profit had doubled, citing demand in China and a recovery in the United States and Europe. The Japanese company said it was unclear what effect Japan's March 11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis would have on its results this year.

Caterpillar said the aftermath of the Japan quake, which has shaken supply chains around the world, would weigh on its full-year results, pulling down revenue by about $300-million and operating profit by $100-million.

The company is expected to close its $7.6-billion acquisition of mining equipment maker Bucyrus International later this year. Caterpillar officials in March said they might complete the purchase without issuing new shares because of its expected strong profit growth this year.

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