Heavy Machinery Makers Struggling

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of companies that make giant mining trucks and big farming tractors fell Thursday on fresh evidence that global demand for their products is falling.

Caterpillar Inc., the world's largest construction and mining equipment manufacturer, on Wednesday reported global retail sales last month down 39 percent, the victim of the global recession and resulting construction slump.

R.W. Baird analyst Robert F. McCarthy said in a client note that the Peoria, Ill., company's "retail demand continues to decelerate globally."

Also Wednesday, Deere & Co., the world's largest farm equipment maker, cut its profit forecast for the second time this year because of falling sales.

Farmers have grown cautious about buying new equipment as prices for corn, wheat and other crops have fallen from record levels last year. Costs of fertilizer and fuel, meanwhile, remain relatively high. And the global credit crunch has made it more difficult to get loans.

Several analysts cut their 2009 earnings estimates on Deere. Jefferies analyst Stephen Volkmann trimmed his estimate by 45 cents to $2.65 per share and UBS analyst Henry Kirn trimmed his estimate to $2.50 from $3.35. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect, on average, $3.05.

In late morning trading, Deere fell $2.44, or 5.5 percent, to $41.89, Caterpillar lost $1.35, 3.6 percent, to $35.95 and Bucyrus International Inc. declined $1.53, or 5.9 percent, to $24.25.

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