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How’s the stimulus working out for Caterpillar?

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By Michelle Malkin  •  April 21, 2009 11:35 AM

You’ll remember President Obama’s aggressive lobbying for the porkulus package at a Caterpillar plant in February. Obama grandly promised that if the stimulus passed, Caterpillar would rehire laid-off workers — a claim that was refuted by Caterpillar’s CEO.

How’s it all working out for Caterpillar? Not so well:

Caterpillar Inc., the world’s largest maker of bulldozers and excavators, posted its first quarterly net loss in 16 years and said full-year profit and sales will trail its previous forecast amid a global recession.

The first-quarter net loss of $112 million, or 19 cents a share, compares with net income of $922 million, or $1.45, a year earlier, the Peoria, Illinois-based company said in a statement today. Revenue dropped 22 percent to $9.23 billion, and the company’s shares fell.

…Caterpillar predicted the U.S. recession in October 2007 and said today it expects the world economy to decline about 1.3 percent this year. Chief Executive Officer Jim Owens has cut more than 24,000 jobs since December and imposed shutdowns, partial workweeks and executive pay cuts to cope with the global credit crisis and longest U.S. slump in a quarter century. Caterpillar fell $1.78, or 5.8 percent, to $28.70 at 9:34 a.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares declined 32 percent this year before today.

Obama used the company to ram the porkulus package through Congress. Now, Caterpillar’s having buyer’s remorse:

Caterpillar Inc., the bulldozer manufacturer President Barack Obama used to help push his $787 billion stimulus plan, called the program disappointing and less effective than measures approved by China.

“The infrastructure portion of the stimulus package was disappointing in that it was less aggressive than other countries and missed an opportunity to correct past underinvestment in U.S. infrastructure,” Caterpillar said in economic commentary with today’s first-quarter earnings report.

Chief Executive Officer Jim Owens, 63, is a member of the president’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board. Obama visited the Peoria, Illinois, headquarters on Feb. 12, the final day of his campaign to press for Congressional passage. Caterpillar today reported its first net loss in 16 years as a global credit crunch and recession reduced demand from builders and miners.

“You can measure America’s bottom line by looking at Caterpillar’s bottom line,” Obama said during the February visit. “What’s happening at this company tells us a larger story about what’s happening in the American economy.”

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