Is It Time to Panic and Sound the Economic Alarm?

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With another earnings season in the books, the outlook is still questionable. Companies across the board continue to find ways to improve the bottom line, while the economic-recovery story remains weak and dependent on monetary easing from central banks around the world. Let’s take a look at two giant economic bellwethers.caterpiller

Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) is one company that is useful when gauging the health of the global economy. It is a leader in building the world’s infrastructure and receives roughly 60 percent of its sales from outside North America.

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The Illinois-based company reported record revenue and earnings for 2012, but a disappointing fourth quarter. Earnings in the final three months of the year plunged 55 percent to $1.04 per share, compared to $2.32 a year earlier. On average, analysts were expecting earnings of $1.69 per share.

Looking ahead, Caterpillar was not shy about the high level of uncertainty and sluggish growth. The company forecasts a wide earnings range of $7 to $9 per share for 2013.

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