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Caterpillar double-downgraded from Buy to Sell by UBS, shares tumble

Heidi Chung
Reporter

Industrial behemoth Caterpillar (CAT) shares were sinking Tuesday after UBS analysts downgraded the stock from Buy all the way to Sell – skipping the Hold rating – and slashed its 12-month price target by nearly 19% from $154 per share to $125 per share.

UBS cited concerns over slowing global construction demand for the big downgrade.

“We believe ~55% of CAT’s end markets will peak in 2019, pressuring revenue and margins in 2020 as demand declines,” analyst Steven Fisher wrote in a note to clients on Tuesday. “We expect Construction Industries revenue to grow ~4% in 2019 and then decline ~8% YoY in 2020, driven by lower demand in North America, Europe and China, partially offset by a continued recovery in Latin America.”

Caterpillar shares were down 3.44% as of market open.

This comes after Caterpillar’s disappointing Q4 2018 earnings. According to Bespoke Investment Group, it was the industrial giant’s worst earnings miss in a decade. Caterpillar said that slowing demand in China was to blame for the 4% drop in sales in the Asia/Pacific unit.

“We will continue to monitor the situation [in China] but as of now, we are forecasting the overall China market to be roughly flat in 2019 following two years of significant growth. China represents about 10% to 15% of our total Construction Industries sales and about 5% to 10% of total Caterpillar sales and revenue,” CEO Jim Umpleby said on the earnings conference call January 28.

As the trade war between the world’s two largest economies rages on, and China’s economy shows signs of cooling down, the list of U.S. companies blaming China for weak earnings and sales continues to grow. Investors often look to Caterpillar as an industrial bellwether for the overall state of the global economy.

In the past year, shares of Caterpillar have fallen nearly 11% but have rallied more than 26% from their October lows.

Heidi Chung is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @heidi_chung.

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