Caterpillar’s Fourth-Quarter Profit Drops

catHeavy equipment maker Caterpillar Inc.’s fourth-quarter profit fell to $697 million, or $1.04 a share, from $1.55 billion, or $2.32, a year ago, on lower production and acquisition costs.Sales fell 7% to $16 billion, the company said Monday.Caterpillar took a $580 million impairment charge after discovering accounting “misconduct” at Siwei, a Chinese company it acquired last year, Bloomberg News reported.

For all of 2012, Caterpillar had $65.9 billion in sales, up from $60.1 billion in 2011, and an $8.48 profit-per share, up 15% from the prior year.

Caterpillar, the largest maker of earth-moving equipment, said its 2013 profit-per share outlook will be $7 to $9 per share and sales will be between $60 billion and $68 billion.

Caterpillar, which formerly made diesel truck engines, said in 2008 it was pulling out of the North American Class 8 truck engine market, except for a truck and engine in partnership with Navistar International Corp.