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Here's Why You Should Retain Caterpillar (CAT) Stock Now

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Caterpillar Inc. (CAT - Free Report) is well-poised for growth in the forthcoming quarters, backed by its robust backlog levels, improving demand in most of its end markets and cost-control efforts. A strong liquidity position, ongoing investments in expanded offerings, and services and digital initiatives are expected to contribute to growth as well. These factors will aid the company in offsetting the impact of higher input costs and supply chain headwinds currently plaguing the industry at large.

Caterpillar currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) and a VGM Score of A. Our research shows that stocks with a VGM Score of A or B combined with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), 2 (Buy) or 3 offer the best investment opportunities. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Let’s delve deeper and analyze the factors that make this stock worth holding on to.

Robust Backlog Levels: Caterpillar’s backlog at the end of the third quarter of 2021 was an impressive $20.6 billion, which was up $2.2 billion on a sequential basis and $7.2 billion on a year-over-year basis. This bodes well for the company’s top-line performance in the days ahead.

Caterpillar and its peers like Terex Corporation (TEX - Free Report) and The Manitowoc Company (MTW - Free Report) have been witnessing strong order levels.

Manitowoc’s backlog as of the end of the third quarter of 2021 was $891 million, up 92% from the year-ago quarter’s end — the highest seen in the last three years.

Terex’s backlog surged a whopping 237% year over year to $2,725 million in third-quarter 2021.

Estimates Move Up: Over the past 60 days, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for Caterpillar’s fiscal 2021 earnings has increased 2%. The consensus mark for fiscal 2022 has been revised upward by 1% over the same time frame.

Positive Earnings Surprise History: Caterpillar beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings in each of the trailing four quarters, the average surprise being 30.2%.

Healthy Growth Prospects: The Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings for fiscal 2021 for Caterpillar is currently pegged at $10.35, suggesting year-over-year growth of 57.8%. The same for fiscal 2022 stands at $12.31, indicating an improvement of 18.9% on a year-over-year basis.

Caterpillar has an estimated long-term earnings growth rate of 12%.

Growth Drivers in Place

In North America, the demand from both residential and non-residential construction is likely to boost demand for Caterpillar’s construction equipment. Also, the passage of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill presents a huge opportunity for the company. In Resource Industries, mining orders are on an uptrend, courtesy of improving metal prices. Miners are increasingly relying on autonomous systems to increase productivity, reduce costs and emissions. Hence, the company is enhancing its autonomous capabilities and bringing innovative products into markets.

In the Energy & Transportation segment, in the Oil & Gas sector, services growth and a focus on sustainability are likely to drive demand for new equipment. The company anticipates improvement in power generation, supported by data center activity. It expects sales to improve in transportation, courtesy of an increase in rail services and international businesses. Industrial is expected to witness growth, with activity strengthening across most applications.

Its cash and liquidity position remains strong with the company ending third-quarter 2021 with cash and short-term investments of $9.4 billion. ME&T debt at the end of second-quarter 2021 stood at $9.7 billion. Caterpillar’s current ratio is at 1.56 while the times interest earned ratio is currently at 7.7.

Caterpillar continues to focus on customers and the future by continuing to invest in digital capabilities, connecting assets and job sites, and developing the next-generation productive and efficient products. The company plans to fund efforts, which are focused on areas of expanded offerings and services, and digital initiatives like e-commerce and drive long-term growth.

Cost Woes and Supply Chain Issues Persist

Caterpillar as well as Manitowoc and Terex have been bearing the brunt of higher material costs, particularly of steel and other commodities. This along with rising freight costs, labor constraints and supply chain headwinds are expected to hinder their margins in the near term. Caterpillar’s ongoing restructuring efforts are anticipated to lead to savings and counter these impacts.

Price Performance

Zacks Investment ResearchImage Source: Zacks Investment Research

Shares of Caterpillar have gained 12.2% in a year’s time compared with the industry’s rally of 13.5%.

A Stock to Consider

A better-ranked stock in the Industrial Products space is Carlisle Companies Incorporated (CSL - Free Report) , which presently carries a Zacks Rank #2.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Carlisle’s earnings for 2022 has been revised upward by 1% over the past 60 days. The consensus mark indicates year-over-year growth of 18%.

Carlisle Companies has a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 38.9%, on average. CSL’s shares have appreciated 52.5% in the past year.