|Bid||147.36 x 1100|
|Ask||147.65 x 800|
|Day's range||146.80 - 148.27|
|52-week range||111.75 - 150.55|
|Beta (5Y monthly)||1.51|
|PE ratio (TTM)||14.05|
|Earnings date||30 Jan 2020|
|Forward dividend & yield||4.12 (2.79%)|
|Ex-dividend date||15 Jan 2020|
|1y target est||146.27|
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It is late October in Jonesboro, Arkansas, a long way from the White House and a long way from the trade war. To launch the Anhui, China-based company’s 125,000 sq ft facility in Jonesboro, southern businessmen and their new Chinese colleagues formed an awkward line on stage behind a red ribbon, each holding a pair of golden scissors and looking at each other for the cue to make the cut. Local politicians were presented with gifts from Anhui, including a traditional painting of galloping horses — a Chinese metaphor for prosperity and success — while a giant screen played a video of factory workers in China performing a choreographed marching band routine.
Caterpillar's (CAT) focus on strategic investments, cost cutting measures and growing offerings and services, and digital initiatives like e-commerce, will aid growth.
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Caterpillar's (CAT) global machine sales growth, which has been trending in single digits so far this year, shows no improvement in November.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Markets are cheering trade progress between the U.S. and China. It’s important to note that a deal isn’t a cure-all — especially for manufacturers.President Donald Trump reportedly signed off late Thursday on an initial trade deal with China that will delay proposed tariffs on some $160 billion of largely consumer goods set to take effect on Dec. 15. The deal presented to Trump also included promises by China to purchase additional U.S. agricultural goods, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News. A rollback of existing tariffs on $360 billion of Chinese goods was said to have been “discussed,” but it’s unclear whether Trump agreed to a reduction and and unknown as to how significant it might be.China has balked at previous agreements that it felt were too lopsided and the removal of tariffs was a top priority. Without that, this deal would appear to be less of a “phase-one” agreement and more of a “phase 0.5” deal. But assuming some semblance of an accord finally limps across the finish line, where do industrial stocks go from here?Manufacturers bore the brunt of the initial tariff crossfire, while the uncertainty wrought by the upheaval in relations between the world’s two biggest economies has slowed customer spending to a crawl. Large manufacturers have been relatively constrained so far in their efforts to cut costs, a sign that they believe demand is being artificially restrained by the trade tensions and could bounce back meaningfully in short order. At the same time, the S&P 500 Industrial Index hit reached an all-time high on Nov. 26 and the actual slowdown in most manufacturers’ sales has been relatively shallow. Industrial distributor Fastenal Co., which sits on the front lines of any economic swings, last week said November daily sales rose 5.7% from a year earlier. That’s a deceleration from the pace of growth at the start of the year, but still relatively healthy, meaning there may not be much room to bounce higher.It’s worth remembering that Caterpillar Inc.’s infamous warning of the “high water-mark” for profits actually came in April 2018, and its guidance at the time excluded potential impacts from increased trade restrictions. The immediately subsequent share plunge was as much a reflection of fears around cyclical peaks as it was the trade war. Since then, tariffs have obviously compounded concerns about an industrial slowdown, but there’s an argument to be made that they also added noise and distraction to a slowdown that was already in the process of happening naturally. Point being, there has been nothing normal about this industrial business cycle and the recovery from here remains a question mark.Trade deal or not, tariff rollback or not, plenty of uncertainty still lingers. Left out of the initial agreement are any commitments around the U.S.’s primary reasons for starting this trade war in the first place, including reforms to China’s industrial subsidies, improved foreign access to certain markets and a loosening of technology-transfer requirements. If I was an industrial CEO — or head of any company, frankly, with substantial business operations in China — plan A would not be to assume the waters remain calm. This trade war will continue to unleash a rethinking of supply chains as companies try to gird against future skirmishes, and that may continue to hinder purchasing decisions. And while settlement of Brexit would be a positive development, the impeachment inquiry in the U.S. is still progressing and the 2020 presidential election looms large.After aggressively buying rumor after rumor on the trade front, this may be a situation where industrial investors should sell the actual news.To contact the author of this story: Brooke Sutherland at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Beth Williams at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Brooke Sutherland is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering deals and industrial companies. She previously wrote an M&A column for Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Agribusiness is increasingly turning to natural and sustainable alternatives to chemicals as consumers rebuff genetically modified foods and concerns grow over Big Ag’s role in climate change.At the heart of the trend are innovations that harness beneficial microorganisms in the soil, including seed-coatings of naturally occurring bacteria and fungi that can do the same work as traditional chemicals, from warding off pests to helping plants flourish, according to a global patent study by research firm GreyB Services.“Both entrepreneurs and investors are saying, ‘Hey, the writing is on the wall, we’re entering a post-chemical world,’” said Rob LeClerc, chief executive officer of AgFunder, an online venture-capital platform. “The seed companies who have billions in market cap are like ‘We need to do something,’ and everyone recognizes the opportunity.”Much of the handwringing over farm chemicals stems from the recent fate of glyphosate, the most ubiquitous weedkiller ever. Regulators around the world are tightening up rules around using the chemical, including Europe and Mexico. Meanwhile, thousands of lawsuits that could result in billions of dollars in penalties are pending against Bayer AG over whether its glyphosate-containing product, Roundup, caused cancer. Bayer insists it’s safe, and some government agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency say it isn’t likely to cause cancer in humans.The global fertilizer and pesticide market is around $240 billion, and grows 2% to 3% a year, according to Ben Belldegrun, a managing partner at Pontifax AgTech, a company that invests in food and agriculture technology. While so-called biologicals including biofertilizers, biopesticides and biostimulants are just 2% of that market, those have been growing closer to 15% a year for the past five years, Belldegrun said.Pressure for less chemical-intensive farming methods is coming from retailers like Walmart Inc., non-governmental organizations and consumers, who are throwing more dollars toward organic and other niche foods with environmental or animal welfare claims.As population increases worldwide, the demand for agricultural products is projected to grow 15% over the next decade with no change in the amount of land available for farming, according to a joint report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization.“There’s a growing world population and how are we going to feed all of these people?” asked Craig Forney, assistant director for licensing and business development at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. “At the same time, we want to protect the environment. We need to use land better and use the resources better.”The answer, Forney said, is “intensified agricultural production to increase productivity of land and do it with minimal chemical support.”Patents give owners the exclusive right to an invention, and can indicate both where research funding is being spent and where companies or universities expect to generate revenue in the future.Companies like BASF SE, Bayer and Syngenta AG have patents on products using naturally-occurring microbes to help crops flourish even when there is low water availability, according to GreyB’s analysis. The microbes can act as catalysts to encourage growth. Biological-based fungicides and insecticides can also help reduce crop damage from insects, slugs and fungi.“Seed-applied biological products can extend the window of disease and pest protection, while some also provide alternate modes of action that can reduce the build-up of resistance, aid with nutrient management and reduce plant stress,” said Chris Judd, BASF’s global strategic marketing manager for Seed Treatment, Inoculants and Biologicals.Evonik Industries AG, Altair Nanotechnologies Inc., Covestro AG and startup Indigo AG have been active in obtaining patents and publishing research in the area of using microbes, as have universities like China’s Zhejiang University and Nanjing Agricultural University, according to GreyB.Likewise, thousands of patents are being issued to companies like BASF, Bayer and Dow Inc. for more natural ways of managing pests including pheromones that deter breeding and reflective mulches, instead of chemical-based insecticides.Germany’s Bayer, which bought agriculture chemical giant Monsanto Co. in 2018, sees “high growth potential” for biologicals, citing a challenging regulatory environment for chemicals and a growing emphasis on sustainability in agriculture. Bayer has a research and development team solely focused on them. The company also is hunting for partnerships to boost its portfolio. Benoit Hartmann, head of biologics at Bayer, said the increased investments show how the science around microbes has matured in recent years.In 2013, BASF acquired seed-treatment supplier Becker Underwood, which helped the company become a leader in biological agents to fight bacteria and fungi. Judd said the company sees demand for biologicals increasing but maintains that they need “to be compatible with an increasing array of chemistries and to have the ability to survive on the seed for adequate periods.”The increased patenting reflects a trend of researchers looking for ways to help promote organic and non-GMO farming, said Nicole Kling, a patent agent with Nixon Peabody who specializes in the biotechnology field.With biologicals, “You’re not introducing chemicals with the scare quotes around it,” Kling said. “You’re not doing anything that would harm the agricultural workers.”Researchers and companies are looking for new solutions for farming with less chemicals because organic farming, the most popular alternative to modern conventional farming, often results in lower yields. Still, demand for food continues increasing. Iowa State and other universities around the world, using government funding or in partnership with companies, are rushing to deal with those competing demands.“The hope is someday in the future they will merge and you will have organic and non-GMO products that are just as productive as Big Ag,” Forney said.That’s where things like precision agriculture to tailor the application of nutrients, artificial intelligence to monitor soil conditions and the development of new plant hybrids come in.Other emerging techniques that could boost yields while helping farmers use less chemicals is artificial intelligence, which is being used to analyze which seeds and crops can yield the most based on changing soil conditions and weather patterns on a farm. The promise of quantum computers would let companies use massive computing power to develop and analyze new seeds and fertilizers.Scientists also are developing new plant varieties, with applications for new varieties up 9% in 2018, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization. China led the growth, with more than a quarter of the applications for new varieties.Much of the research in crop biotech is centered in the U.S., China, Germany, Japan and South Korea, though it’s being adapted to meet local conditions in Africa, Latin America and Asia, according to WIPO, an agency of the U.N.Demand for more food will be greatest in Africa, India and the Middle East. In the developing world, there is little food scarcity because “we did good things with all that ‘better living through chemistry,’” Kling said, referring to a play on an old DuPont motto. It has come at a cost, though.“We’re starting to see some of the effects of that -- all of this wonderful industrialization has contributed to climate change,” Kling said. “We’re starting to see people swing back in the other direction.”(Adds executive comment in fifteenth paragraph)To contact the reporters on this story: Lydia Mulvany in Chicago at email@example.com;Susan Decker in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jon Morgan at email@example.com, ;James Attwood at firstname.lastname@example.org, Elizabeth WassermanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
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Impact of raw-material cost inflation on margins, inventory reduction at its dealers and low end-user demand due to the global economic uncertainty are headwinds for Caterpillar (CAT).
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Deere & Co. results show the trouble with reading the economic tea leaves.The maker of tractors and construction equipment slumped on Wednesday after announcing a depressed outlook for fiscal 2020 that caught investors off guard. Deere expects net income to be no higher than $3.1 billion next year, a decline relative to 2019 and well below the $3.46 billion analysts had been modeling. Here was investors’ response:The root of the disappointment is Deere’s expectation that global agricultural and turf equipment sales will slump 5% to 10% next year. Heading into earnings, there was optimism that Deere might even see growth in that division, should the prospect of a trade deal and the Trump administration’s plans to pump financial support into the farming industry incentivize growers to finally swap out aging equipment. Indeed, data released by the Commerce Department on Wednesday showed that capital spending excluding aircraft increased in October by the most since the start of the year, adding credence to the idea that the slowdown in industrial growth is bottoming out.With the trade war still lingering in the background, though, it appears Deere CEO John May isn’t banking on much of anything. That seems the prudent path to take. For one, May only just ascended to the CEO role this month and is likely disinclined to set goals he can’t guarantee in such an uncertain environment (3M Co.’s Michael Roman, who’s cut guidance an absurd number of times in his short tenure, should probably take note). But even CEOs who have been around for a while would have trouble predicting how their customers will act six to nine months down the road. This industrial downturn has been different from others in that it’s not a function of supply-and-demand dynamics but of political uncertainty. Manufacturing data can naturally be lumpy given the volatile timing of big projects, or in the case of this year, the General Motors Co. labor strike. But the unpredictable nature of trade negotiations makes the trajectory of any recovery particularly difficult to predict.The tariffs that China and the U.S. have levied against each other have made inventory management something more akin to an Olympic sport as companies try to get ahead of the levies but also guard against getting stuck with a bunch of unwanted goods. That challenge was reflected in Deere’s outlook. Looking at the broader market, Deere expects demand for agricultural equipment to drop 5% in the U.S. and Canada, while the European, South American and Asian markets are seen remaining flat. That’s not as severe as Deere’s forecast for its own business, a dynamic which Jefferies analyst Stephen Volkmann says likely reflects an expectation that dealers are still sitting on too much inventory and will work through that before placing new orders. An upwardly revised GDP figure released Wednesday of 2.1% for the third quarter also reflected inventory accumulation. Point being, no one really knows anything, and everyone is afraid of moving in the wrong direction. One reason Deere’s lackluster guidance hit its stock particularly hard is that the forecast wasn’t accompanied by much detail on restructuring that the company had previously indicated would be forthcoming. The company will implement a voluntary separation program for some employees that should save about $150 million annually when combined with 2019 cost-cutting efforts. If the outlook is really as bad as Deere claims, though, you would think we would see something more substantive on cost cuts. But to get aggressive with restructuring, Deere also has to be confident that this market isn’t going to turn around on a dime if there is in fact a legitimate trade deal, lest it end up short-staffed. The Trump administration is quickly running out of ways to describe the trade talks and proximity to a “phase-one” agreement. One day we were down to the “short strokes,” the next we’re in the rather morbid sounding “final throes.” But while investors are more than happy to price in those words as a done deal, CEOs are thinking differently. Deere’s downbeat guidance follows similar outlooks from Caterpillar Inc. and Emerson Electric Co. that in certain lights could be construed as conservative. Or they might just be accurate.To contact the author of this story: Brooke Sutherland at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Beth Williams at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Brooke Sutherland is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering deals and industrial companies. She previously wrote an M&A column for Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Mohamed El-Erian, Allianz's chief economic adviser, says there will be 'a mini deal that will see a truce through next year.'