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Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) is the largest manufacturer of construction and mining equipment and engines in the world. Its manufacturing capacity, in conjunction with an extensive network of insurance and financial services products, gave Caterpillar assets worth US$7 billion in fiscal 2009. Ranked number one in the heavy equipment sector and 44th overall, Caterpillar is one of the companies comprising the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

As in most industries, the construction and financial services segments were hit heavily by the global economic crisis that began in late 2007. Caterpillar posted record sales that year before experiencing a drastic plunge through fiscal 2009. Nearly legendary for its ability to refocus its efforts, the company has been seeing impressive success as it moves to meet some of the equipment needs of the burgeoning Chinese economy. The sheer size of this one market bodes well for future sales and, not coincidentally the Caterpillar stock quote.

Headquartered in Peoria, Illinois, Caterpillar Inc. employs some 95,000 personnel worldwide. A product of a 1925 merger between the C. L. Best Tractor Company and the Holt Manufacturing Company (the origin of the crawler tractor and the inspiration for British tanks in World War One), the new company called itself the Caterpillar Tractor Company until 1986. After a reorganization as a Delaware corporation that year, the company became Caterpillar Inc.\r\n\r\nWhile the very challenging world economy has brought setbacks, particularly in the American housing construction market , this is a company known for being responsive to a rapidly changing business conditions. The companies precipitous drop in revenues began in 2008 and 2009. However, the rate of decline has slowed, an indicator that its diversification strategies are working. Machinery and engine sales are helping to offset losses in the financial services portion of the company.

While CAT may be depressed for a time as it regroups, Caterpillar's refocusing its efforts on infrastructure projects in emerging economies should boost its stock price back to more normal levels.

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