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Caterpillar: Production cuts will run into 2013

Updated: December 8, 2012 6:39AM

Caterpillar Inc. says it will continue to idle factories and cut production into next year because of a slowdown in demand for its mining and construction equipment.

Mike DeWalt, director of investor relations for Peoria-based Caterpillar, told the Robert W. Baird 2012 Industrial Conference in Chicago on Tuesday that Caterpillar has been hard hit by a slowdown in mining. That part of Caterpillar’s business had remained strong through recession in Europe and the sputtering U.S. recovery.

Shutdowns of a week or two will happen at factories in the United States and abroad, and some locations could also move to four-day work weeks, the company said.

DeWalt said the company is expecting growth next year to be about the same as this year.

“We’re not banking on a big turnaround in the economy,” he said.

At the same investor conference Tuesday, Navistar CEO Lewis Campbell said the Lisle-based company’s turnaround plans are solid.

The company, which has watched its shares plunge about 40 percent this year, in August announced the abrupt retirement of its top executive, Daniel Ustian, and named Campbell its chairman and interim CEO.

“We have the right plan and the right strategy to turn this company around in the next 12 to 18 months,” Campell told the conference.

Navistar has looked at every unit of the company that doesn’t contribute to the core North American truck engine and parts business for possible sale. But a strong cash balance — $1.4 billion — means it will take its time.

“We have a very strong cash balance, so we don’t have to fire sale anything,” he said.

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